Tola gulped her water. “I want to know what you did to Tolu.” She charged angrily. Wole swallowed. “You aren’t so macho after all?”
“Tola, can you just stop being a fool for a minute. This man rescued you from that idiot and now you are attacking him, what is it?” Ini replied.
Tola smiled. “Ini, this isn’t your business and I suggest you stay out of it.” She then turned towards Wole. “I don’t know Tolu’s whereabouts and he isn’t answering his calls, what if this man here had him killed?” she asked eyeballing Wole Briggs coldly.
“I didn’t do anything of such to him. I thought you could use some help there.” He replied calmly.
She scoffed. “Help? I have never needed anyone’s help. When I needed help, the only one who ‘helped’ me was Tolu. And that’s the only man I know, get it into your head.” She said, standing up.
Wole took a deep breath. “My work is done here.” He said, staring at Ini. “Please take care of her, don’t forget to call me.” he said, and walked out.
Ini closed the door after Wole and stared at Tola. “Tola Matthews, do you really want to continue living like this? You are Tolu’s toy!”
“That’s it! What do you know about being a toy? Why won’t anyone understand? Where’s Kimberly?” she shouted.
Ini hissed. “What is Kim going to tell you differently?”
“I don’t know, but at least, she knows how to listen.” She said, and grabbed her shoes and walked in.
David turned off the engine as he pulled up in front of the house. “I would have my secretary call you tomorrow, there’s a fund raiser that we have to attend.”
I stared at him. “What do you think I am? You can’t just arrange my life for me, David.” I replied.
He smiled. “I apologize. Okay, we have to be at a fund raiser early next week; I would have my secretary brief you on the details.”
“David Coker! You need to seek my consent, not give me orders. I am not about to become my mother!” I said and stormed out of his car, slamming the door hard.
I pressed the door bell with some venom. After the second hit, Ini opened up. “Hello.” I said, and walked in. she poked her head outside, I could guess she was trying to know why David Coker was still outside. She faced me as soon as she shut the door. “No questions!” I immediately said, closing any avenue for queries.
“Well, I guess you are not about to act like Tola tonight.” She said, sitting down. “That reminds me, you forgot your phone, and Ben Ten called endlessly.”
I stared at the ‘evil in her’. “Why didn’t you pick up?”
She shrugged. “It’s your phone, I shouldn’t be answering your calls, you know.”
I nodded. “Ini, if I didn’t know you well, I would have agreed with you, but I know you didn’t answer the call on purpose.”
“What difference does it make?” she cut in. “It’s not like you didn’t have a nice time, I mean, it’s almost midnight.” She said, staring at the clock. It was fifteen minutes to midnight.
I scoffed. “So you think I enjoyed being out with David? Ben walked in on us.”
“Omg! Ben Ten?”
I wore an awful grimace. “Uh-hmm Ten Ben” She sat up. “What happened?” she asked in a calm tone.
I shrugged. “What part do you want to hear first? The bad or the Ugly?”
She looked up as though she was thinking about her answer, we both knew there was nothing for her to think about. She wanted the ugly, it’s just like Ini. “The ugly.” She affirmed. Just like Ini!
“Okay…David punched Ben.”
Her jaw dropped in surprise. “Really? Mr. Debonair threw punches at an exquisite restaurant?” I nodded in agreement. “Was it that bad?”
I sighed. “Ini, why would he hit him if it wasn’t that bad?” her face fell. “Quit the good girl look, I know how excited you are about this.”
“Did he hit back?” she asked, coming alive now.
I smiled. More like Ini! “Oh…well, Ben tried to hit him first and then he dodged swiftly and sent Ben crashing into the table.”
A rueful smile lurked around Ini’s lips. “Perfecto! That’s how a real man should act! It must have been like one of those Mexican soap operas, like when Diego fought for Paloma. What’s the name of that guy he beat up?” she asked rubbing her forehead.
I eyeballed her. “See…it didn’t take long to bring out the devil in you! One minute to gloat and you are already showing how much hate you have for Ben.”
She rose to her feet defensively. “Don’t paint me bad! I am only trying to see things from my perspective.”
I nodded. “And where does Ben fit in your ‘perspective’.”
She snapped. “Come of it, Kim.” She said. She took her seat beside me and came closer. I shifted from her and she came closer, she grabbed my neck with excitement. “Did you guys kiss?”
I jumped out of her grip. “Ini Obong! Have you lost it? How do you expect me to kiss someone that I don’t love?” She whistled and turned on the Home Theatre. “Whistle all you want, but you are really sick to think I would even kiss him!” I replied.
She played Drake’s ‘Find your love’. “You know I love it when songs preach to you! You need to find your love… ‘Eh…eh…eh….and nothing’s gonna tear us apart’
“You should just stick with modeling, you have no career in music!” I said, and grabbed my phone from the side table. “Ini, the neighbourhood would be resting, turn off that noise!”
She smiled and obliged. “Don’t you want to know what happened with Tola and Tolu tonight?” she asked, stopping me in my tracks. I turned. “Olofofo! I always knew you had it in you, you just hide behind the fact that you are ‘intelligent’ abi na brilliant?” she added in pidgin English.
“I don’t blame you. Spill it!” I replied.
She smiled. “Wole Briggs brought Tola home.” I took my seat with a questioning look. “Babe, I guess Tolu messed up, but Tola did worse.”
“How? By coming home with Wole Briggs?” I asked.
She shook her head in disagreement. “She practically sent Wole away when she woke up. She started saying nonsense about how she was sure that Wole must have had her Tolu killed, since he wasn’t picking up.”
I hissed. “That guy must have her under a spell.” Ini wore a grimace as she stared at me. “Okay…I don’t believe in ‘juju’ but na wetin?” I asked in pidgin.
“Kim, you just used pidgin.” She replied, laughing.
I frowned. I rarely use Pidgin English. Most times, it came as a last resort when I had nothing else to say. “Ini, just ignore that.” I replied. “How are we going to help Tola?” I asked.
Ini shrugged. “I don’t see us changing her mind about Tolu, it is something that she has to do on her own, probably learn a really bitter lesson, or she finds another man.”
“Like Wole? She says he is pretty arrogant.” I replied.
Ini shook her head. “He didn’t seem so to me. We had a decent conversation, and I must say, he is a very nice guy, and he is a free man. He would really make her happy.”
I yawned slightly and rose to my feet. “We’ll see. Is Tola spending this weekend with Tolu?” I asked.
Ini nodded. “I guess so, more so, now that she couldn’t reach him after the party.”
“But I thought we were gonna to set up the barbeque this weekend.”
Ini smiled. “And invite who? It’s not like Ben would come, and I bet David would see it as ridiculous, Marcus is pissed at me, we really won’t have people over for it.”
“What did you do to that gentle Marcus again? Let me guess, you reminded him of Chioma spitefully?”
Ini shrugged. “He should let go for once and move on. And do you know that he has refused to let me know his new apartment since Chioma left, I might just search for that myself.”
“Ini, just stay out of his business, Marcus is a bit private, respect that!”
She hissed. “No way! I no fit respect that! He works for me; I must know everything about him. We have been friends since high school, why would he be keeping secrets from me?”
“Maybe because he doesn’t have a posh apartment, you know he’s still saving up for a car, he may not want you to ‘wash’ his house.” I replied and left for my room.
Henry passed me an apple from the stand. “For your troubles.” He said. I scoffed. “My supervisor won’t have a look at my work.”
“We’ll make it irresistible.” I replied.
He smiled. “Kim, how did you spend Val’s day?” he asked. I rolled my eyes. “You can tell me.” he added.
“Henry, I am busy!” I replied. He sprang to his feet and started laughing. “What?!”
He poked my cheek. “It went bad.” He said smiling. I frowned. “Oh yes…that’s the syndrome! So who broke your heart? Ben?”
I shot at him. “Enough, Henry!” I ordered. He paused and then took his seat. “I am single!” I added.
“Wow!!! I might just try my luck.” He said, rubbing his palms. I smiled. “Is that a yes?”
I hissed. “Dreamer! I think I have this thing sorted out.” I said, turning the laptop in his direction. “What do you think?”
He put the laptop aside and drew his chair closer. “I like your eyes.” He said.
I batted them and stared back. “I don’t like yours!” I replied, and drew my chair back. “Henry, do you need your ‘A’?” I asked, standing up.
“Of course, but above all…” he said, joining me. I stepped backwards. He grinned. “Why are you scared?” he asked.
I stamped my foot. “Okay! That’s enough Henry! I won’t have you do this again!” I ordered. Henry came forward with a deep grin; I stepped back in fear and crashed into the apple stand. He let out a horrid laugh.
“What are you looking at? Help her up?” Old Rodger shouted. I flipped my head over my shoulder to see Old Rodger who was leaning against his cane for support. “I am so sorry, my dear. This monster must be at it again.”
Henry pulled me up. “I was just messing with you, Kim.” I hissed. “I am sorry.” He added as he helped me to a seat.
I felt embarrassed. “Henry, this act of yours is sickening!” I shouted. I stared at Old Rodger. “Sir, Good afternoon.” I said. Old Rodger smiled and helped himself to a seat. I didn’t like that smile. ‘We weren’t doing anything! Or, rather, Henry was acting funny.’ I said to myself silently.
“You guys are kids, it’s okay to have fun.”
KIDS!!! I am a university graduate, I have a job! (Not exactly a job, but at least I am out of school!) I shot furiously at Henry who was all smiles. It seemed as though his Dad was taking his side. “Old Rodger, Henry and I are done here. I would head out now.” I turned toward Henry. “Do submit that paper this week and give me the feedback.” I grabbed my grocery bag. “Have a great day.” I said and walked out.
“Kim, are you pissed at me?” Henry asked, holding my hand back.
I freed my hand from his grip and walked on. “Why should I be?” I asked with a smile. He smiled back. Did he think the smile was for fun? “I can’t be pissed at a kid.” I said, grinning.
“KID? I am not a kid.” He stared at himself. “I have all the muscles in the right places and I might possibly be older than you.” he added. I stole a glance at his physique and then scoffed. “Still unimpressed?”
I nodded in agreement. “Still as unimpressed as the first day I met you.” I replied. He pulled a face and I laughed. “But, Henry, you really are a cool guy, I like your person. Maybe you should meet my sisters someday.”
“Sisters? Or housemates?”
I rolled my eyes. “I call them sisters.”
Boye sank into the chair. “Ben, who was that girl you left the bar with yesterday?” Ben continued typing on his laptop, ignoring Boye. “Ben, did you guys hit it?” Ben stared at him with some anger in his eyes. “Yes…you did!” he said, laughing.
Ben hit the table. “Boye! I can’t tolerate you anymore.” He shouted. “I only dropped her at her place.”
“Eh! Don’t transfer the aggression, I am not Kimberly.” He replied. “And if I were you, I would be looking for another lady, because it’s obvious from what that girl wore last night that you are still out of her league.”
Ben stood up. “I haven’t said a thing about that lady, except that I dropped her. Where’s Keji? Didn’t she come to work today? You guys should be hiding around the toilet as usual.”
“I intend to take things serious with Keji soon. After what happened to you yesterday, I don’t think I want any lady springing a surprise on me.”
Ben nodded. “Kimberly is a cheat!”
“You guys were never dating, Ben. I think she was fairly honest with you.”
He hissed. “She knew I loved her. She’s just a slimy little cheat! She appears to be this beautiful and principled lady, but she’s not different from the others who lie and deceive people.”
“Ben, you are full of spite for Kim, did you ever ask her if she was engaged?”
He shrugged. “She didn’t look it. She never mentioned anything. She just let me dream.”
“You wanted to dream, bro!”
Ben paused and dropped his pen. “Are you on her side? You saw her man humiliate me; He wanted me to know that he has it all.” Boye blinked. “What? I am serious! He was very rude.”
“Ben, I am not disputing the fact that he might have made you look little, but you already belittled yourself. Ben, you are always thinking mediocre and acting in wise. I am not surprised that you got that kind of treatment.”
Ben scoffed. “Boye, are you trying to say that I was at fault? Kimberly never told me that she had a fiancé.”
“You are out of context, Ben. I don’t want us flogging this issue unnecessarily, but I think you shouldn’t judge Kimberly yet, give her the chance to explain.”
He nodded. “She hasn’t even called since the incident. Isn’t that pathetic? She’s probably at home with her fiancé now, eating and watching the news.”
Boye sighed. “I have to go to my office now. See you later.” He said and approached the door. The door flung open with Mr. Adeoye bursting in. “Good afternoon sir.”
Mr. Adeoye looked angry. “What’s good about this afternoon?” he asked and walked in. Ben rose to his feet, Boye immediately walked out. “Ben, this month has been horrible for us. Our sales have dropped drastically, didn’t the audience like the *Val’s day special* in it?”
Ben rubbed his chin. “Sir, that article was written by Mrs. Ibe, I don’t think it went down well with the youths and they were our primary target for Val’s day.”
“Yesterday was Val’s day, we didn’t get a single feedback! It had never been like this!” he shouted.
Ben bowed his head. “I am sorry sir!”
“I don’t need your sorry, Ben. I need this thing fixed.” He shouted angrily and then paused. “Do you remember that lady that came here the other day saying she could write for us?” he asked. “I think the name is Kimberly.”
“No.” Ben replied, bluntly.
Mr. Adeoye nodded and walked out. Ben sighed and took his seat.
“Final Pose….erm….there you have it!” The Photographer said as he closed the photo shoot.
Ini smiled. “Don’t forget to send them to my mail, Michael.” She said, and walked towards Marcus. He turned away as soon as he saw her coming. “Really, Marcus?”
Marcus ignored her and spoke to the chairman of the Etilahad group. “Sir, my client would love all the things offered and more…she’s good and you know it, she’s a beauty for your brand.”
“Marcus, I know Ini is good. But, I have told you our terms. Shola Jones was satisfied with those terms too.”
Marcus sighed. “Ini is on a different level from Shola Jones and you know it. Ini is warm, she brings the beauty to your brand, she will make people love Etilahad.”
Ini stared at Marcus as he spoke with the Chairman. She immediately joined them. “Mr. Chairman, I would love to have a moment with Marcus.” She said. Marcus stared at her. She held his hand and stepped away from them. “Marcus, are you going to continue ignoring me?” she asked.
He sighed. “I am not ignoring you, I am trying to seal a deal for you, please let me return to my work.”
“I am sorry about yesterday.”
“I am not offended.”
She hissed. “You didn’t wait at the usual spot this morning. Did you join a bus to this place?”
“I had to be here much early, I couldn’t wait for you.” he replied. She wanted to utter another statement but he stopped the predictable next question. “Sorry I didn’t call, I was out of airtime.”
Ini nodded. “I am not a fool, Marcus. I am really sorry.”
He sighed. “Okay fine. What do you want?”
“Can we have lunch?” she asked. He stared at her. “I’ll cook.”
He scoffed. “I’ll pass. I have to be at my mother’s.”
“Are you afraid of my cooking?”
He stared at her. “Do you cook?”
I stared at Henry as I clutched my purse to my arm. “This had better be good.” I said.
“Of course. Shall we?” he asked leading the way.
I sighed and walked with him. “Henry, next time, set up a meeting.” I said.
He smiled. “It’s urgent. I didn’t get my girlfriend anything for Val’s day, and then she’s putting up this attitude, I bet it has something to do with her not receiving a thing.”
“What makes you think I am a good judge of dresses? I rarely go shopping.” I said, flagging a taxi. “You should meet Ini.” I added almost inaudibly.
He helped me hold the door while I got in and then closed it carefully after him. “Kim, you are the only female friend I have apart from my girlfriend.” I stared at him with the ‘you know you just lied’ look. “Okay, fine. That’s a lie, but any other girl that tags along might request I get her a clutch, shoe or even a gown.” He leaned forward to tell the taxi driver our destination. “The Palms.”
I smiled. “What makes you think I won’t?” I asked.
He sat back and smiled. “You are different.” I blushed slightly. “You are just close to perfect, Ben is a lucky dude.”
I shot at him. “Ben isn’t my boyfriend.” I replied. He whistled. “I am serious, Henry!”
“That’s fine. You don’t have to get all defensive. I believe you.” he grinned. “So, who is he?”
I sighed. “Can we skip the topic?”
“NO!” he replied, sharply.
I took a deep breath. I wasn’t about to tell him that I was engaged. I flashed a smile at him and fetched my I-pod from my purse. These things come handy, you know. I plugged my ears carefully and tilted my head towards the window allowing the city’s breeze flow through.
“Bad habit!” Henry said as we got off the cab.
I smiled. “I am sorry, Henry.” I dragged with sarcasm. “You won’t give up.” He pushed the door and I stepped in. “Thank you.”
“Where do we go?”
I looked around. “Mango. Ini loves that place.” I said, leading the way. “How much do you have for shopping though?”
I smiled at him. “My sister or housemate, pick one.” I walked into the store with a smile. “So how much do you have?”
He smiled. “Don’t worry about the money. I need to make my girlfriend happy.”
“Here we are then…” I stopped pointing to some gowns. “Be my guest.”
He stared at one gown. “This is nice. Would you try it on?” he asked, checking the price tag.
“It’s for your girlfriend, I shouldn’t be trying it on.” I replied.
He frowned. “It doesn’t matter.” I ignored him. “Fine. I’ll just assume this would fit her. She’s got good curves like you.” he said.
I assessed the gown. “It’s beautiful.” I said and checked the price tag. “Henry, are you sure about this gown?” #25,000
He nodded in agreement. “Yes, I am.” He said, pulling it off the rack. He stared at me. “We have something beautiful, let’s go.”
“Let’s do some window shopping, at least. Check the jewelry sections.” I replied.
He smiled and nodded in agreement. “Wow…check this out, Kim.” He said, pulling my hand as we stopped before a diamond necklace.
“This is beautiful.” I said, staring through the show glass. “This would cost a fortune.” I said, staring at it.
He stared at me. “I could steal it for you.” he said, sounding serious. He sounded serious to me.
I stared back at him and stepped back. “Now you are beginning to sound like a freak. First, you scare me to death at your father’s store, and now you are saying something scary.” I replied.
Henry laughed. “You really take everything too serious, Kim Banks. I was just messing with you.” he said.
“Really? Okay, let’s pay for the gown and leave.” I replied and walked away.
He caught up with me at the counter and pulled my hand back. “I am sorry if I scared you, but I thought you were down with it. I guess I act like a kid, I’ll grow up soon.”
I chuckled. “How soon is soon?” I asked and he smiled. “I can deal with your jokes, but they sometimes have me worried.” I added with a smile. “But, how soon is soon?”
He looked serious. “Soon enough but not soon enough to stop me from what I am about to do.” He said and tickled me. I tried to wriggle and bumped into an oncoming customer.
I turned around swiftly. “I am so sor….ry” I said. I raised my head and my jaw fell. “I am sorry, David.” I said staring at him.