David stared at Henry as though he was about to say something rude to him. His stare was very offensive as he helped me up to my feet. “I am sorry, David.” I repeated for a second time. He appeared not to pay any attention to my first apology.
Henry paced around David with a corny smile. “You really know some fly guys, Kimberly.” He stopped and stared at David. “Dude, your suit is dope!” David remained mute. “Kim, doesn’t your friend talk?”
I rushed to Henry and sealed his mouth. “David, I am so sorry.” He kept on staring at us. “At least say something.” I said, getting sick of his mute game.
He turned to his right as a beautiful lady in a Red gown and Black smart heels approached him with two shopping bags. “Are you set, Yewande?” he asked. She nodded in agreement and they walked out together.
Henry stared at me. “Who was that guy?”
“Erm…a friend.” I replied. I wasn’t comfortable with telling him that David is my ‘to-be’ Husband.
Henry scoffed. “That guy must be really boxed up, and with a touch of arrogance too.” He said. I smiled. “Anyway, let’s get out of here” He said, and we walked over to the attendant.
I adjusted my Ray Ban sunshades as soon as we stepped out of the Palms into the sun. “Wow! You look good in it.” Henry said.
I smiled in acknowledgement. “Funny thing, Tola hates them. She likens them to a beggar’s shades, might dispose of it soon.”
“Who’s Tola? Your housemate? Sorry, sister?”
I smiled. “Yes…now we are on the same page.” Henry tapped me. “What?” I turned to see David approaching us. I braced up for anything he would say.
He took off his shades. “You want a ride?” he asked.
Henry stared at him. “We are fine.” He replied.
David stepped forward and smiled. “I wasn’t talking to you, kid.” He turned towards me. “Do you want a ride, Kimberly?” he asked.
I stared at Henry. “We are fine, thank you.”
David swallowed and walked away. “Who’s that guy?!” Henry asked. “He just called me a kid! I can’t stand him. Where did you ever meet him?”
“Just stop, Henry! He’s a friend.” I said, and flagged a cab down.
Henry didn’t say a word to me till we got home. “Thank you.”
“For what?” I asked.
He shrugged. “For coming along.” He replied. I smiled and walked into the house.
Oyinkan flipped her hair across her shoulder as David flung the office door open. “Hey Couz!” she said. He stared at her. “Your secretary let me in.” She added, knowing that David’s next question might be on how she got into his office.
David sank into his chair. “Kimberly has issues.”
Oyinkan smiled. “David, every girl has issues. What has she done?”
“Apart from her boyfriend crashing in on our dinner last night, I met another guy she ‘kicks it with’.”
Oyinkan raised an eyebrow. “David, are you sure you didn’t misinterpret the situation?” she asked, standing up. David’s gaze followed her as she walked round in his spacious office. “David, how are you sure of what happened?”
“I saw Kimberly and this guy having fun at Mango, he even tickled her till she tripped over me accidentally.” He said, angrily. “She is my fiancé, not another man’s toy.” He complained.
She took her seat. “How did she react?”
He shrugged. “Nothing special in her reaction, except that she turned down my offer to take her home.” He drummed on the table. “We will have our introduction next week.”
Oyinkan’s jaw dropped. “DAVID???” She stared at him. “You won’t marry Kimberly because you want to possess her, she’s not one of your properties” she argued.
He stared at her. “Whose side are you on? I was going to marry her anyway”
“Yes, but not in this manner.”
David stood up. “I have seen her around two guys now, and the situations have never been palatable. Anyway, business is involved.”
Oyinkan shook her head. “David, I think you should get to know Kimberly better. You guys don’t need to suffer because of business.”
“I don’t know if I have the time to know her. Do you know that Kimberly doesn’t know about their business?” he asked. He smiled as Oyinkan wore a surprised look. “That lady is going to be my wife; she has to know things about us. She even thinks that buying houses is pure evil.”
Oyinkan smiled. “Buying people’s homes” She corrected. “I kind of agree with her. You never used to like it, I wonder how Mr. Coker made you like this.”
He hissed. “I’ll talk to father and have the introduction plans started.” He replied.
“David, I don’t want to believe that Kimberly would want the marriage so soon. I think you should get to know her better. Hang out and try to make things work if you guys will be together. David, you only get one chance to love.”
He stared at her and scoffed. “Where did you get that lie from?” she smiled. “I’ll tell Yewande to drop the stuffs I bought for her at Mango at her place; I hope that’s good enough.”
“I suggest you take it to her after work. You guys could probably take a walk or something, just try to create a decent atmosphere for yourselves.”
David stared at her. “What if she can’t love me?”
She smiled. “You guys don’t need love, you only need mutual understanding.”
The doorbell rang for a second time. I stared at the wall clock. “7:30pm”. Tola would be at Tolu’s for the weekend, and Ini had a late photo shoot. The bell chimed again. I groaned in discomfort as I rose from the sofa and had to forfeit the tension soaked scene in Tinsel, my favorite soap opera. I opened the door with some venom as I expected Henry; he would be the only nuisance at the door.
“Good evening.” David said, as he stepped back.
I took a deep breath. “Good evening, David.” I replied. “Please come in.” I offered. He nodded and walked in after me. “Please sit.”
I left for the kitchen and returned with a can of Fayrouz. “You care?” I asked. He smiled and I passed it to him. “I usually don’t entertain visitors without notice.” I lied, trying to sound professional. Not that any unannounced visitor is welcome, but I could use the tone of a working class woman.
“What do you do?” he asked. “That is, apart from writing for your Dad?”
I hissed. “I don’t work for him. I am unemployed.” He stared at me as he opened his drink. “That’s what my Dad wants you to believe.”
“Really? I thought you work for him.”
I sighed. “I don’t! I am unemployed and needing a job.”
He looked to his right and handed me a gift bag. “I got these for you.” He said. I collected the bag. “You should try them on, maybe you can wear the black for the fund raiser.” I took a deep breath. “What is it?” he asked, calmly.
“Have you ever been in love? Or have you had any girlfriend in the past?”
He stared at me. “That’s none of your business.” He replied, firmly.
“Oh yeah? I think it is…David, you need to seek my opinion before throwing anything at me. I don’t like the fact that you are imposing a fund raiser on me. You should seek my permission first.”
He nodded. “Kimberly, we are going to be married sooner than later.”
“Still doesn’t give you the right to impose your will on me.”
He shrugged. “I am sorry if you feel that way, but I am just trying to help us get along, at least, let’s be happy if we are not in love.” I turned away shaking my head. “Or are you in love with someone?” he asked.
I looked at his cold eyes. “If I was, would you let me go?” I asked.
An awkward silence filled the room. At that moment, I wished I was in love with someone, anyone. David’s eyes blinked. “Kimberly, I don’t want to marry you.” He replied. A tiny smile formed around my lip. “But I have to.” The smile faded as soon as he dropped the bomb. “And I know that you don’t want to either, but you have to. It’s what we have to do.”
“Have you ever been in love?” I asked.
He smiled lightly. “I don’t know. I only love my business.”
I cursed. “And you want to go on with that feeling until your dying day?”
“It doesn’t matter, as long as we are good companions, have mutual understanding, and we are very comfortable, we don’t need love.”
I nodded with some sarcasm. “I need love.” He stared at me. “I have watched my mom live in comfort without love, I don’t want it.”
“Is there someone else?”
I blinked. “If there is, would you let me go?”
He rose to his feet. “Kimberly, you know better.” He took a deep breath. “Do you want to take a walk?”
“Okay, I’ll just get my jacket.” I replied, and left for my room.
We walked down into the streets. We listened to the dogs howling and barking and we finally took our seats on the side chairs in the Estate. These things have a reason they are made, you know.
“Erm…” we both said and laughed. “You go first.” He said, playing the gentleman script.
I smiled. “Dad said you have been into business since you were a little boy.” He nodded in agreement. “How did you find it?”
“I felt lost initially, I was 14 then when I started going with Dad to tie up deals.” He paused. “I met older men, they really despised me, didn’t like the fact that I was learning the ropes that early.” He stopped to stare at me. “I had a tough life.”
I burst into a cynical laughter. “Try another joke. Your Dad has forever been rich!”
I shrugged. “Never mattered, I never really liked his business, but now, I have grown to love it and fight for it.”
“What do you mean by tough life? I know the business is hard, but you are comfortable, you have everything you want.”
He nodded. “But not all I need. I can’t even buy myself a conscience or a heart.”
I stared at him carefully. His words were wise, not that I expected anything less, but they were starting to hit me. “You are a good man, David.”
“You think?” he sighed and rose to his feet. “I couldn’t even save the only woman I have ever loved from depression.” He said and walked away.
“It’s a bright and sunny Saturday morning in Lagos City. What are you doing today? Someone’s birthday? Someone’s wedding? A barbeque party? Chelsea against Manchester United? Or attending a funeral? Tune into Lagos city 94.8FM, it’s your boy, Magic on the radio…”
Ini turned off the side radio as the ray of light shone into her eyes. “Mumu, you no dey sleep?” she shouted at me in Pidgin English. I smiled arrogantly as I turned on the radio again. She hissed dryly and pulled herself up from the bed. “You know how important it is that I….”
“get my beauty sleep…” I yawned along with her. “It’s 9am, Ini. Time to clean up!”
She scoffed. “Why you no go call Tola from Tolu’s bed?”
“Tola is with her man, they are definitely busy with some sanitation.” I replied and Ini grinned. “I will be waiting for you in the kitchen, we start off from there today.” I announced and walked out.
The doorbell chimed. “Ahn! Who could that be?” I said aloud and strode over to the door.
“TA-DA!!!” Henry shouted as I opened the door.
I stared at him with a grimace. “Why are you here so early?”
“I thought you could use some help with the sanitation today.” He said, trying to come in but I stood firmly in front of the door. “What?”
I took a deep breath. “You should help your Dad with the store.”
“All done! We did that last night!” he replied, grinning.
I rolled my eyes. “And your project?”
He scoffed. “Kim, stop treating me like a kid. I came to visit you, and that’s that, you must allow me in.” he said with a rueful smile
“Na wa o! Where did you find this kid?”
I turned round to see Ini. “How long have you been standing there?” I asked.
Henry tried stretching his hand across. “I am Henry.”
She nodded and pulled me aside. “Let him in.” Henry stepped in confidently. He still looked juvenile to me. He was wearing Ralph polo, faded blue jeans and a LV snicker. “How old are you?” Ini asked, with a smile.
He stared at us. “23.”
“Really?! You look 18.” She replied. “Better start getting some white collar and pants.” She said. “Sanitation starts from the kitchen, but I’ll gladly have you start in my bathroom, if you know what I mean.” She said as she bit her lip gently staring provocatively at Henry’s lower.
I smiled. Ini is a slut! Henry stared at me and I shrugged. “This way please.” I said, leading him to the dinning. “What would you have? Fruit and Fibre? Oat?”
“Nah…I am okay.” He replied.
Ini poked her head in from the kitchen. “You better eat! You’ll help us with the barbeque.” She said and poked her head back.
“I thought we cancelled the barbeque this weekend.”
She poked her head out again. “On a second thought, Marcus and I have reconciled, so it won’t be boring, and since Henry’s here, we might as well just have some proper refreshment.”
“Leaving Tola out?”
She nodded. “We’ll have other days.” She replied and returned to the kitchen.
I turned to Henry. “Are you okay with it?”
He nodded excitedly. “Sweet!” I nodded. “I’ll have breakfast then.”
“Okay then. What would it be?”
He drummed his fingers on the table. “Whatever you’ll have”
I laughed. “You better make your choice. I’ll have potatoes and scrambled eggs.”
He shot at me. “Why then did you offer me Cereal?” he asked, feigning seriousness.
“I am sorry, you may turn on the TV and catch some fun.” I said and disappeared into the kitchen.
Ini pulled me aside as soon as I entered the kitchen. “Are you sleeping with that kid?”
I hissed and pushed her kindly. “Everyone can’t be like you.”
“I was just messing with you.”
I scoffed. “Well don’t! I think he likes me and he’s not a kid, he’s just a baby at heart.”
Ini laughed hard. “What the difference?”
“There is a difference.” I replied.
She smiled. “Marcus is no longer mad at me, we talked things out yesterday.” She announced as she washed the potatoes. “Do you want me to chop them into bits?” she asked, getting a chopping board.
“It’s already your intention to chop them. Why are you with a board?”
She shrugged and rinsed the knife. “I think we have to sit Tola down and talk to her about Tolu, that guy is milking her dry and I think it’s time we tell her the truth, however she might find it.”
I sighed. “I really don’t understand the whole situation myself. I wish she could just realize it, Tola is deaf to anything we say about Tolu. She practically worships him. He is her life, her everything, i guess. It’s just unfortunate.”
“Listen Kim, Tola likes to talk to you as she thinks my advice is filthy. You saw her reaction when I suggested that Tolu joined the agency.” I stopped to eyeball her. She hissed and continued. “I wouldn’t have slept with him. Tola is like my sister; at least if he was earning some cash for himself no matter how irregular, he wouldn’t have to live off her.”
I nodded. “You have a point there, but you know your records with men.” She laughed. “Almost every guy wants to have you, even if you don’t want Tolu, he doesn’t seem to me like the decent type, he’ll want you, and that would create problems with Tola.”
Ini nodded in agreement. “That guy is a devil. I just wonder how Tola is still stuck with him. I wonder how the intelligent ones do the most stupid things…”
“And what is that supposed to mean?”
She smiled as she turned on the gas placing the pot carefully on it. “Look at you, you are going to be married off, with all your First Class and High IQ, and for your parents, they are doing what my Illiterate parents won’t dare.” I took a deep breath. Spanking hot truth! “Also, look at Tola, beautiful and intelligent, yet she is a slave to love, what baffles me is how people see the both of you as reliable sources for relationship advice.” She paused and winked. “I SHOULD BE THE ONE GIVING ADVICE; I AM NOT TANGLED UP LIKE YOU BOTH!”
I grabbed her neck. “You monster!”
Ini and I rushed to the living room as we heard Henry scream in excitement. “What is it?” we chorused.
“SJ has been released from the hospital?”
Ini stared at him. “MJ is dead!”
He shook his head in disagreement. “I said SJ…not MJ…SJ is Shola Jones.” I smiled. “I am so happy for her, they say her skin treatment was a success and she recovered rapidly.”
“Okay, now what?” Ini asked, sounding indifferent.
He shrugged. “I guess she’ll continue her treatment at home according to TMV fashion news, and then she’ll be back on the runway as soon as possible.”
“How come you know so much about Fashion news, are you gay?” Ini asked, staring at the news.
He smiled. “I don’t know anything about it, Shola Jones is my cousin that’s why I know her.”
Ini widened her eyes. “You are Shola’s cousin?”
Ini sank into a chair. “Oh…well”
“Are you also a fan of my cousin?” he asked.
I hissed. “They are rivals. Ever heard of Ini Obong?” I asked. Henry looked at Ini. It was the ‘you are the Ini’ type of look.
“Wow! I can’t believe I am under the same roof with the talked about Ini Obong. I am sorry I don’t know your face, I am not so conversant with the Fashion TV and all, I only know my cousin Nice to meet you.” He said, stretching out his hand.Ini took the handshake calmly. “You are so different from what SJ says about you.”
“Oh well…I am gravely misunderstood.” She replied. I grinned.
Ini rose to her feet. “I think we can continue with breakfast now.” She said, leaving for the kitchen.
“What’s up, Ini?” I asked, walking into the kitchen. “You seem not to like the fact that Shola Jones is out of the hospital.”
She hissed. “What do I care?” I held her hand. “I am not scared.”
“Why should you be? She can’t take your contract from you, you are working hard for it.” I replied.
*Buzz* Ini’s iPhone vibrated. “I have to take this.” She said, and stepped out through the backdoor into the yard. I stared at her she seemed to be yelling into the phone. I could guess she was speaking with Marcus.
“I am hungry.” Henry said, as he walked into the kitchen.
I turned towards him. “Give me about ten minutes.” I said, dismissing him. I was more concerned about my sister now. She might be feeling intimidated with Shola’s return.
Ini returned into the house almost immediately. For the first time in a long time, Ini didn’t seem calm and in control of this situation. She appeared distraught. “I may have to leave soon.” She said, fetching a can of Coke. She downed it in almost one gulp.
“Ini! Get a hold of yourself. You are good at what you do, why are you so scared?”
She wriggled out of my grip and left for her room. I joined Henry in the living room. “Food is almost ready.” I said.
“Excellent news! So, I never knew that one of your sisters is the famous Ini Obong. That’s a delight.”
I nodded. “There you have it. Did your girlfriend like the gown?”
“She did. I think she’s happier now.”
I shook my head. The doorbell chimed. ‘Who could that be?’ I thought as I approached the door. Thoughts of David streamed through my mind and I, for the first time was scared. I turned the door knob gently and Tola stood before me in a Ray Ban sunshade and her bag dangling loosely from her shoulder.
“Tola!” I squealed, as I tried to hug her. “You came home for barbeque” I guffawed as I shut the door.
She snubbed me and walked past. She stopped to stare at Henry. “Who are you?”
“Hey Tola, that’s no way to treat my guest.” I interrupted before she continued her query.
Henry stood up. “My name is Henry.”
Ini ran downstairs in a chinos top and a black jean, she was holding her car key. “Heading out?” Tola asked.
She stared at Tola. “Yes, and what’s the Ray Ban for? I thought you said Kim wore beggar shades?” she asked, laughing. I grinned. “I thought you could do better, like Gucci or something else?”
“Why don’t you spend more time on minding your business, Ini Obong? Shola Jones is out of the hospital, I hope you aren’t scared.”
I turned towards Tola. “Why are you so annoying this morning? You are not supposed to be back till tomorrow evening. You never return on Saturdays.”
“There’s always a first.” She said, almost pushing me out of the way.
I dragged her back and accidentally yanked the glasses off her eyes in the process. I covered my mouth in surprise, Henry’s Jaw dropped and Ini screamed.