I adjusted in my chair as I stared at Ben. “Happy Valentine’s Day, Ben.”
He smiled. “I saved enough money to bring you here, why him?” he asked, staring at David. David sighed and sipped his drink. His legs were crossed carefully and he appeared indifferent.
“Ben, it’s not what you think. Things are a lot more different than it seems and I can explain if you give me the chance.”
He nodded. “Of course, you can explain. But you never did. You had all the time in the world, I called you endlessly this evening, you didn’t have the decency to pick my call and out of the blues, you send me a text that something came up.” He was now raising his voice. “Is this what you are busy with?” he asked, eyeballing David.
I touched my clutch and searched for my phone. Oh no! I had dropped it at home while collecting the clutch from Ini. My heart skipped a beat as David rose to his feet. He adjusted his jacket and took a deep breath. “Good evening.” He said, stretching out his hand. Weird man!
Ben stared at him from head to toe. “Are you trying to throw your $5,000 suit in my face?” he asked, looking at him. David stared at his jacket and smiled. “You think it’s funny, right?”
I stood up. “Benjamin! What’s all these for?” I queried. I didn’t know what to do at that time, like it or not, David is my to-be husband.
He shot at me. “What does it look like? You stood me up just because you felt I couldn’t bring you to this kind of place, right?” I hissed. “Go on…I might be nobody today, but I know how to spend all I have on someone I love.” He yelled.
“Just hold it right there, Ben! You are embarrassing me!” I stifled through my teeth. Heads were beginning to turn and the murmurings began. What a nice way to ruin to the evening!
He nodded. “Of course! I am not meant to be in this kind of place, I am not from the top families, I am…”
“Just shut up! You are so pathetic.” I yelled.
Boye joined us. “Cool it, Ben, let’s get out of here.” Boye said, holding his hand.
“No, you were right, Boye. Stupid me! Here I am with all I have to show my love and it’s been spurned in my face, just because I am not a rich kid.” He said pointing at David. David smiled. “Just look at that! Very arrogant bastard.” He said and threw a punch at David.
David dodged it and hit him in the face. Ben crashed into the table breaking it in the process. Boye rushed to him and I did too. I never thought that David could hit anyone, he looked so… “Ben, are you alright?” I said, looking at his face. From his face, it was obvious that he was dazed from David’s hit.
Security Men rushed in and tried to pick Ben up. “Is there a problem?” one of them asked, facing David.
“This nuisance here disrupted my dinner with my fiancée.” David replied.
Ben stared at him as Boye helped him up. “Fiancée?” he turned towards me. “Y…You never told me.” he struggled to say. I bowed my head; it wasn’t something I was proud of.
David took my hand. “We are leaving” he said, pulling me along. He then paused and looked at Ben. “By the way, the suit is $7,000.” He said, and walked out dragging me along.
“Stop this! Show me some respect!” I shouted as we stepped out of the Restaurant.
He laughed scornfully. “Really? I think you are the one who has to show me some respect. Your boyfriend tried to hit me.”
“Ben is not my boyfriend.”
He nodded. “It didn’t seem so to me. You should try to define your friendship, Kimberly Bankole.” He said, walking away.
“David Coker! You don’t know a thing about me!” I replied hurrying after him.
He turned back. “Fill me in. You appear to me like some woman who can’t wait to be with any man because her fiancé is temporarily unavailable.”
I was stunned! I am still a virgin because of this man! (PLEASE: Tell no one!) “Temporarily unavailable? You are unbelievable, David Coker. I have been faithful to you ever since our parents hooked us.” I yelled. Some people walking into the restaurant stopped to look at us. “What are you looking at?” I shouted. Those who had stopped to watch quickly walked ahead.
He smiled and grabbed my hand. “The next time you forget that you are Kimberly Bankole, remember that I am David Coker and I have a family name to protect. Now get into the car and stop embarrassing our families.” He said and pushed me in.
He didn’t say a word as he drove into the night. The gossip channel in Nigeria would already have information on David and I yelling outside the famous Golden Gate Restaurant, and I could bet that Dad would blame me for it. He won’t see anything wrong with his precious son-in-law to be.
Tola sighed as she watched Tolu dance with the 3rd girl. He didn’t even ask her for a dance, and when she was ‘stupid’ enough to get on the dance floor with him, he switched dance partners almost immediately. She poured herself another shot of whisky.
“You have had enough.”
Her cup was seized as she tried to drink. She turned to see Wole Briggs. “You again?”
He nodded. “Yes, it’s me again.”
“Do you keep tabs on me? Or is this a coincidence?” she asked, feeling tipsy.
Wole adjusted his chair and faced her. “I am Wole Briggs, remember?”
She smiled. “And still as arrogant as ever”
He shrugged. “So what are you doing here all by yourself?” he asked, sipping her drink. She didn’t respond. Seeing that she wasn’t in the mood to say anything, he continued. “Or, who are you here with?”
She turned sharply. “Mr. Briggs! Why are you here?”
“I came to hang out with some friends, and then I spotted you afar off, I thought I should say hi.”
She nodded. “There you have it, Hi-Hello.” She said hastily and turned in Tolu’s direction, he was still on the dance floor. His new dance partner wore a polka dotted pink gown, she sighed. The last lady was wearing a red gown. Tolu went on and on having fun, while she grew morose.
“Do you want to dance?” Wole asked.
She hissed and tried to lift the bottle to her mouth. Wole seized the bottle this time. “What is it, Wole Briggs? Are you too stupid that you don’t know when to stop?”
He smiled. “I just thought you could use some company. I don’t think your boyfriend loves you.” he said, looking ahead.
“What do you know about me?” she said, and fetched her phone from her purse. “You know nothing, absolutely nothing!”
He shrugged. “Not much, but enough to know that you need to go home and take a shower and sleep. Val’s day has not been a good one for you.”
“Really?” she laughed, mockingly. “How has it been for you?”
He smiled. “I am here with friends; everyone is having a good time.”
“Except you!” she interrupted, quickly.
He smiled. “Why?”
She nodded and tried to keep her eyes open. “It is because you are here with me. If you were with your friends right now, you may be happy, but right now, you are having a bad time.”
“You are right. Why don’t we make it a good time for both of us then? We could take a walk.”
She nodded and tried to stand up. “I usually don’t drink much.” She said. She struggled to gain balance on her heels. She then puked accidentally and crashed into Wole. She felt embarrassed. The Alcohol had too much weight on her, normally; she won’t do that in the public. “I am sorry.” She struggled to say, avoiding his stare. She had stained his shirt.
Wole helped her to a seat. “It’s okay.” He took out his handkerchief and wiped her face gently, he lifted her chin to his face. “You need to rest. Let me take you home.”
“Hey fast guy! What are you doing with my woman?” Tolu said, placing his Hat on the table, he rolled his sleeves quickly.
Tola’s view was hazy. “He was only helping me out.”
“Really? You were all over him.” He replied, angrily.
Wole stepped in. “Chill man, she is slightly drunk. She needs to go home.”
Tolu clenched his fists. “I didn’t ask for your explanation, punk!”
Wole nodded and stepped back. “Take ‘your woman’ home.”
“Of course!” Tolu bent over to pick Tola up. This time she burped slightly and he dropped her carelessly. “My Pant!”
Wole pushed him away roughly and helped her up. She groaned in pain. “Are you alright?” he asked, trying to help her to a seat. He turned at Tolu. “You Pig! That’s no way to treat a woman!”
Tolu manned up. “Who are you to tell me how to treat a woman? My Woman!”
“She didn’t do that on purpose.”
Tolu nodded. “Listen Man, this is none of your business, just stay away.” He dragged Tola’s hand up. “Let’s get out of here!” he shouted.
David Coker stretched a cup of Ice cream at me. I turned away. “Don’t ruin this day for yourself. Very soon, all the gossip channels would be talking about the incident at Golden gate, don’t make it worse. Just have something for your belly.”
I scoffed. “So, taking the ice-cream would reduce the weight of how bad I feel right now?”
He nodded with a smile. “It promises to reduce it.” He replied, leaning against the Car. “Since we are going to be getting married, I feel we should try to be friends, to a good level.”
“Marriage?” I scoffed. “You are a wild thinker, David.”
He hissed dryly. “Look here Kimberly, you are yet to know how this operates, right? Wait till our wedding day.” He said, and brought out an envelope from the car. He stretched it at me. “Take.”
“What is this?” I asked, looking at the envelope.
He thrusted it into my hand. “Just see for yourself.”
I opened it and brought out some Invitation Cards. “What is this, David?”
“Samples of our Invitation Cards, there are about five of them. Make your pick and we would set a date.”
I laughed mockingly. “I am not your acquisition, David. You can’t make these choices without me.”
He nodded. “Of course not, that’s why I am showing you the cards, just pick one.”
“It doesn’t work this way, Mr. Coker.”
He smiled. “However you think it works is your business, I have my methods and I would go by them too.” he stretched the Ice-cream at me again. “It’s melting…”
“No, thanks!” I replied.
He shrugged and dumped it into the Bin. “We would leave when you wish.” He said, and returned into the car.
I joined him in the car almost immediately. “Now that you have succeeded in ruining my evening, David Coker, Tell me why you came back.”
He turned off the engine. “Okay, we could sit here and talk. Erm…There’s a major take over for our family next month and I have to be here.”
“Take over? I don’t follow…could you enlighten me?”
He nodded. “Of course…there are some settlements that we want to buy and turn into a new franchise, possibly we would look for semi-remote environments.”
“Kicking people into the streets?”
He frowned. “No! Most of them are illegal anyways, it’s not their place…so we are just taking back what is a mess and re-defining it.”
“You are kicking people into the streets. You are making people homeless.”
He scoffed. “Why are you making it sound so bad? It’s not like your family is not into it.”
I shook my head in disagreement. “My father is an Economist.” I corrected.
He laughed mockingly as though he knew more. “Really? You know so little about your family business, it’s a shame you are the only child of Prof. Bankole. You have to inherit what you have no idea about.”
I was confused. “What are you saying, David?”
“Your Dad is a major stake holder in our business, he’s been into this for almost ten years now, how are you not aware of it?”
I sighed. “I was never told.”
He hissed dryly. “You never asked. How is it that you think an Economist like your Dad would be able to call the shots if he didn’t have a backup plan?”
I ignored him.
“Look Kim, you better get used to it. We don’t kick people out of their homes into the streets. We redefine these messed up environments and make them worthy of admiration.”
David smiled and started the engine. “It’s getting late, should I drop you at your father’s?”
“No. I have my own apartment.” I bragged in my heart. At least, my savings was good for something. I could boast of a place to rest my head outside Prof. Bankole’s house. Even if I had to share…with Tola and Ini.
Marcus turned off the gas. “Food is ready.” He announced. Ini strode into the kitchen. “I hope you like it.”
She stared at the pot and hissed. “Really, Marcus? Rice! My mates are busy having fun on the island or anywhere away from home and I am here confined to Rice. Thank you, I am so touched.”
“There’s plantain too.” He said, showing her the pan. He fetched two plates. “It isn’t my fault that you have no date tonight, you might as well enjoy being stuck with me.”
Ini smiled and poured herself a drink. “If only I had accepted to date that guy from Johannesburg in the agency.” She lamented shaking her head. “The new photographer.”
“Michael? He’s only about a week old in the agency. Has he already made a pass on you?”
She gave a sensual smile. “Why won’t he?”
“I am a lucky man!” he replied, dropping the plates on the dining table. “I am able to hang around you without charge.” He said, laughing.
Ini frowned. “You were never funny during high school and you still are lacking now.” She said and served herself. “I don’t like this chicken, Marcus.” She said, picking a chicken and raising it to his face with an ugly grimace.
He hissed. “I had to do the cooking all alone!” he grumbled. Ini stared at him, and his face fell. “Really Ini, I tried. At least I am showing you some love, no one is doing that today.”
“I turned down the opportunity of being in a classy restaurant. For what?” she said, looking at the Rice, Plantain and Chicken. “Marcus, this is why you are still single.” He swallowed and blinked carefully. “What? Am I wrong? Little wonder Chioma left you.”
He dropped his fork. “Chioma wanted more than I could give her and you know it.”
Ini scoffed. “I was just kidding, let’s eat.” He packed his plate. “Really Marcus? Don’t get angry at this rude girl, you know I am teasing.”
“I understand. I have to be somewhere.”
Ini dropped her fork. “Marcus! I am sorry…really…I know you don’t like to hear about Chioma but I was just teasing you.” He nodded and turned into the kitchen. Ini chased after him. “Marcus, I am really sorry.” She sighed. “But, why do you get upset whenever we talk about Chioma?”
“Chioma is my past living in my present.”
Ini nodded with sarcasm. “Whatever that is, Marcus, but I think you should let her go.”
“I can’t. She’s already forced herself into my life.” He took a deep breath. “I have to leave now, Ini.” He said, approaching the door. “Have a good evening. See you at the photo shoot tomorrow.”
“At least, let me drop you off.”
He smiled. “You really want to know my place by all means, I won’t let you.” he said, and walked out.
Ini returned to the dining table and dug her fork into the Rice. “He really does cook well.” She murmured and ate on. The door bell chimed and a wry smile lurked around her lips. She immediately wiped her mouth and dropped the fork beside the plate. She didn’t want Marcus to know that she touched the food. ‘Why did he come back?’ she thought as she danced to the door.
“Why did you come baccckkk…?” Ini swallowed the rest as she saw Tola in Wole’s arm. “Who are you and what are you doing with my friend?” she said. She stared at him carefully. She had seen this face before… ‘The Magazine or TV…he had to be a popular face’.
Wole groaned slightly. “Could you let me in at least? She’s some weight.”
Ini stepped aside and watched Wole place Tola carefully on the couch. She shut the door and faced him. “Who are you?”
“My name is Wole Briggs, I am Tola’s friend. I brought her home.”
Ini nodded. “That, I can see. Why did you bring her home? She’s meant to be with her boyfriend.”
“He would visit later. Do take care of her.” He said approaching the door.
Ini ran across and blocked his way with a wry smile. “Not so fast. What did you do to her?” her face was stern now. Sister’s love!
He smiled. “I was only helping out, she would explain when she wakes.”
“How about I detain you till she wakes up?” Ini said, sternly. Wole stared at her and sighed. He reached for his inner pocket. “I don’t need your card.” She said, firmly.
He smiled revealing his teeth, this time with some beauty in it. He fetched his card from his pocket and flashed it at her. “How did you know I was going for that?”
She grinned. “It’s not hard to figure. You are Wole Briggs, you probably would want to show me who you are.” She stretched her hand towards a seat. “You would just have to wait till she wakes up.”
He nodded in agreement and walked over to the dining table. “Wow…so you were having dinner alone on a day like this?”
Ini walked over to the table. “Not exactly.” she replied, taking her seat. “A friend just left.”
Wole reached for a spoon. “I won’t mind sharing with you.”
“Be my guest.” She said, getting another plate.
He smiled as he took the first spoon. “This is good.” He then paused. “I am sorry, what’s your name?”
She smiled back. “Ini…Ini Obong.”
“Nice to meet you, Ini. So you guys stay here together?”
She nodded. “We have a third flat mate, Kimberly. She’s not in at the moment.”
“I am sorry, but how is it that you are the only one who didn’t go out to catch some fun?” he said, staring at her.
She shrugged and sipped her drink. “I had fun with a friend, we didn’t want the traditional Val’s day thing, so we just stayed in.” she lied. He nodded impressively. “So, are you from the Briggs’s family? I mean, Briggs Empire?”
He smiled. “Well, I think I am.”
Fortunate Man! He must have had it all while growing up. Ini came from a very humble home, things were hard with them, but they raised a fighter in her, who had become slightly over ambitious.
“What do you do, Ini?” he asked.
She smiled as she was about to flaunt her profession. “I am a Model.”
“Really? Wow…that agency is fast rising these days. I might even need your help soon.” He said, biting his chicken. “My sister has a clothing line, so who knows?”
Ini pretended not to be excited about the prospect of modeling for one of the biggest brands in Africa. “Your card may come now.” She said. Wole smiled and handed her the card. “So, how is business these days?”
He shrugged. “Business is business. But, I am more into buying properties these days; I am in Lagos for a while though.”
“Where does the wind of business take you to again?”
He smiled. “You never know.”
Oyinkan dropped her purse at the bar. “Martini please…” she said as she ran her finger across her hair. She watched the bartender pour the glass. It took her mind back to how Remi had poured her glass.
“So, tell me Oyinkan, what do you do?” Remi had asked. He fixed his gaze on hers.
She relaxed in the chair and dropped the glass kindly. “Nothing.” She replied, casually.
He probed her. “Really? How is that?”
“Like you know, I just returned so, I am still looking around. I probably would settle down soon.”
Remi shifted his weight against hers and dropped his glass kindly. Her heart raced faster as he brought his mouth close to her neck. “Nice cologne.”
She chuckled slightly and moved away from him. David was right! She shouldn’t be hanging around strangers too quick, she just met Remi.
“I want you.” he blurted, running his eyes through her female assets.
She stared at him. She didn’t have the normal bold stare she normally posed when about to do the business with men, fear was written all over her face. David had warned her against jumping into men’s bed, but this time, she wasn’t even pushing herself at Remi like she usually did, he wanted her.
Remi drew closer again and this time, with more urge. He started to kiss her neck; he ran his hand through her lap underneath her gown. Oyinkan groaned slightly and broke free from him. “I am sorry.” She said, standing up. She pulled her gown down as he had started to pull it roughly.
“I thought you wanted this.” He said, picking up his glass.
She sighed. “Of course not. I wanted a man, not a pig.” She said, spitefully.
PIG??? Remi sprang to his feet furiously and darted towards her. She was two seconds too quick for him as she dashed out.
She sighed as she sipped her drink. Some serenity at last! She thought.
“Whisky!” A man bellowed as he slipped into the next seat beside Oyinkan. She sighed. He downed his cup in no time and ordered for the second, and third and fourth and the gulps rolled in.
She seized the cup. “Hey! Go home!” she ordered.
He laughed. “You know, you sound just like her, the type of woman who would make you see her as instantly perfect.” He said and yanked his glass from her.
A rueful smile endorsed her lips. ‘Did someone just see me as perfect?’ she asked herself and faced him. “Life doesn’t end there.”
“Are you sure? Why are you here? You must be devastated too.” he said, wiping some perspiration from his face.
Oyinkan smiled. “I am not devastated; I just got what I asked for.” She smiled at the Bartender. “Water please.” He frowned. “I know you do have water in reserve.”
He shrugged and opened a fridge. “Here you go.” He said, handing her a bottle of water.
“Thank you.” she said and turned towards the man stretching the bottle. “So, I am Oyinkan, and you are?”
He collected it with a smile. “Ben.”