Jaiye was not expecting to meet Oluchi at his office. She was at the reception, impatiently waiting for him and talking angrily to someone on the phone. He was glad for the distraction she had brought, he didn’t know what it was yet, but it was at least going to drag his mind away from Nene temporarily.
Why did she lie to him? She had made him believe the baby was hers, didn’t tell him it wasn’t even when he had offered to help her financially and kept it a secret until the truth stumbled out of her mouth. He wondered vaguely if she would have ever told him the truth if for some reason, she had not made the mistake of blurting it out.
He liked her. She was great company and he realized he laughed more with her than he had ever laughed with anybody, not even when he was with his older brothers and friends. She made him feel comfortable in a way he couldn’t explain and conversations just came easily and effortlessly when he was with her. She was smart and beautiful and from the little they had talked about, he knew she was dedicated and a hardworker too.
He wanted to be her friend. He wanted to know her more; be a part of her life and form a great friendship with her to achieve that, one that would lead somewhere, one that would be strong and become a part of both their lives. She was an interesting person and he wanted to know beyond the surface of what he saw. He just wanted that and nothing more, or maybe something more, but with time.
He didn’t like that she lied to him and that he had only found out the truth by chance, that wasn’t a good way to start an ideal friendship. Or maybe he was being too hard on her, maybe he had to hear her out? But God knew he was disappointed at the moment and he couldn’t hear her out just yet.
“Jaiye, I have been calling you for hours” Oluchi was done with her phone conversation and was talking to him now. She was dressed in a purple polo tee and leather pants, her hair was flowing down her shoulders and almost reached her waist. He noticed she was not wearing any make up, that was unlike Oluchi, she was never the one to leave her house without make up on.
“My phone has been off for a while now” he replied and realized his personal assistant was still not at her desk, he wondered what was wrong with her and what had kept her this long away from work. She had never been like that, he made a mental note to check on her when the day was over.
“Jaiye, that girl with you is a snitch” Oluchi seemed slightly angry, maybe that was why she wasn’t wearing makeup. She was too angry to wear make up, that almost made him chuckle and if he had not been so mad at Nene, he would have teased Oluchi.
“What girl?” he asked, puzzled.
“Nene. She is a big snitch and she is trouble.”
Jaiye wasn’t sure he knew what Oluchi was talking about, “Oluchi, I don’t understand you shey you know?”
“Okay here it is, I just discovered that this girl hosts a show called the diggerz produced by a struggling production outfit and her show is based on dirt and secrets she digs up about celebrities and famous people. She knows the Fowler family secret Jaiye, it is what she was looking for. That is going to be on tv and major media outlet soon if we don’t do anything” Oluchi said to him, she thrust her phone into his hands for proof, “see that, that’s one of her videos on 360nobs, I don’t know how I missed this the first time but she’s big trouble!” Jaiye couldn’t find words. He immediately became tongue tied and his mind went blank as he scanned the web page in front of him, watched Nene’s videos and checked the internet for more.
Who in God’s name was that woman?
He had kissed her, spent hours laughing with her and slept in the same room with her, yet he didn’t know how dangerous she was? She had drawn him to her and he had found himself wanting to be her friend, look out for her and spend more time with her, yet he hadn’t had the slightest clue that she was more lethal than an arsenal?
So she had been looking for the secret just like the others? And she had slowly used him somehow to get to it. How silly of him to have been caught unaware. And they were going to pay her money to keep quiet, would she have collected the money and then blackmailed them? Or would she have just gone straight ahead to spill it to the whole world? He didn’t even know what to think about her, too many questions filled his mind and he knew she was the only one who could provide the answers he needed.
Slowly, his emotions began to climax into anger, he was angry, very angry and Nene was the cause. He turned back and stormed out of the office.
Oluchi watched him leave, he was angry. Jaiye was always calm under every circumstance, that wasn’t news anymore, that was who he was and that was how everyone saw him but what she just witnessed now was different. He was angry and she could see it.
It had been clearly written on his face and he didn’t look like he was bothered about hiding it, at least not with the expression and the eventual action he took by storming out.
The day didn’t make her mood better. By the time she got to work, the clouds had gathered, the wind was blowing heavily and it was threatening to rain cats and dogs.
She walked into the office just in time for the rain to start pouring. She avoided everyone that was asking her questions and walked straight to her office, she felt like crying, felt like easing the load on her chest somehow but she didn’t know how to.
Tolu walked in, she was grinning from ear to ear as if she just won a medal.
“You just walk in and out of this office these days like you don’t care” Tolu said to her and Nene realized she really didn’t care. Once upon a time, the job was all that mattered to her, now Jaiyejeje Fowler mattered more to her than anything. Her heart sank, knowing deep down that he just might never forgive her.
“na wa o, that Jaiye must be giving you all the goodies. Sha collect everything you can because people like you don’t marry people like that and the real girl would soon come along”
Nene tried her best not to pay attention to Tolu’s jeers but she found herself wondering if Jaiye felt close to the way she was beginning to feel for him, if the kiss he dropped on her lips meant anything to him, if he felt bad that things were ruined between them.
Tolu dropped a pen on the table. “My grandfather’s burial was over the weekend, that is part of the souvenir”
Nene eyed the pen, it was all they shared at her grandfather’s burial? Just the pen? And why was she offering her? Tolu didn’t like her, she didn’t like Tolu, she didn’t expect to get a handshake even if that was all they shared at her grandfather’s burial. It wasn’t like she would give Tolu any souvenir she distributed at her own family event anyway.
“Thank you Tolu. Please excuse me now, I will like to get to work.”
Tolu smiled at her, “if I were you, I would dig all the gold in that Fowler family, maybe even set up my own business from it. It is not everyday a girl stumbles on wealth her entire generation has never made.”
She placed the pen in front of Nene and walked out. Nene eyed the pen warily, who distributed a pen at a burial without printing anything whatsoever on it? To her it was just plain weird.
Jaiye knew he should have waited a bit to calm his nerves at the office when he heard the news, but for some reason he couldn’t explain, he had taken an action he normally wouldn’t take and was now driving his range into Nene’s office.
He didn’t know and honestly couldn’t fathom why the woman had such enormous effect on his emotions, he rarely got disappointed in anybody; he never gave them the chance to disappoint him. He rarely ever got so angry, and took actions like jumping into his car and dashing to where the reason he was mad was. He never felt so relaxed with anybody that he laughed and talked and talked without a care in the world. He never felt so responsible for anybody that he would purposely delay his flight and made sure she was okay before they left their location. She made him feel different things, and all very extreme.
What in the hell was it with her? Why did she make him feel things he wasn’t used to and take decisions he would rather not take? He remembered how she had made him drive to the radio station the day she was granting an interview about him too. Maybe he would find out what it was about her today, after she had given him lots of answers. The answers he believed that she owed him.
He stepped out into the rain and didn’t mind the way it beat his back and the fact that his shirt was slightly wet when he stepped into the reception. The receptionist batted her eyelids and smiled shyly at him before describing Nene’s office to him.
Every other member of the office stared at him like he was a Greek god while he walked through the busy office into a small cubicle that was supposed to be Nene’s office.
He wondered why she decided to work in an office with little or no space and why she picked the strange looking cubicle as her personal space. But then again, he was a millionaire and not everyone had it that good.
Tolu watched Jaiye disappear into Nene’s office, never in her life had luck smiled on her so quickly. Then pen was lying on the table in Nene’s office and Jaiye was there in hot chocolaty flesh and blood, they would have a discussion that would be important, at least, it was what she hoped.
When she was done hoping, she started to marvel at how good the Fowler millionaire looked in person, maybe she could have her own share of the hotness when Nene was done. She bit her lip unconsciously.
Nene had not been expecting to see Jaiye in a million years; she had thought he would never look for her again and that even if she wanted to see him, it would have been impossible. But here he was in her office, all six feet of himself, slightly wet from the rain, and as she noticed through his expression, very angry.
“Jaiye I am very sorry” she began to say and immediately got on her feet. “You had assumed from the very first moment you set eyes on my niece and I. And I know I shouldn’t have let you carry on with the assumption, but I just…”
“You just couldn’t help but lie?” his voice was cold, colder than the harmattan weather and way harsher than the weather could be on the skin.
“Jaiye, I am sorry. I should have told you the truth.”
“Yes you should have. Instead you granted radio interviews and told everyone who cared to listen I was your baby daddy. Now tell me Nene, what was it you wanted exactly?” Nene hoped his expression would at least soften, she longed so desperately for that laughter of his she had easily gotten the night before and the night before that one.
Tolu dashed in and interrupted the duo, Nene had never been more grateful for her unneeded interruptions; it made the tension in the room ease a little.
“I’m sorry, I just wanted to borrow the pen” she said to both Nene and Jaiye and picked the pen, then she pressed it and scribbled something in a writing pad, dropped it and walked out. As Tolu left the office, she smiled. She had gone to make sure the pen was recording the conversation the way she had been taught and she was glad it was doing exactly that. she was enjoying this, she happily went to get herself lunch.
Jaiye didn’t say a word until two minutes after Tolu left, “And apparently you have a show called the diggerz”
Nene’s heart skipped a beat. He had found out who she really was.
Jaiye noticed her shock, “You didn’t want me to know that too did you? When were you going to divulge that particular information? When you had my hundred percent trust and I was totally into you?”
She couldn’t speak. She totally couldn’t speak.
“You were looking for news from us weren’t you? That’s why you did all you could to get my attention, that’s why you did all you could to come into my life.” He smiled, cynically.
Nene’s legs were shaking and her mouth was dry, her heart was beating fast and she was afraid of what was coming next. She had never been more ashamed of her job than she was at the moment.
All the digging now made no sense to her, suddenly she realized she had been using other people’s secrets to make ends meet and suddenly it occurred to her how they must have felt.
“Now that you know the news what next?” he asked her, hoping she would tell him she would never spill the secret because it wouldn’t only kill him, it would kill the entire Fowler clan.
“I’m sorry Jaiye” she muttered.
“What next Nene? Are you going to tell the world my brother is gay?”
“No” she replied.
He wanted to believe her, wanted to hang on to that word, wanted to believe that never would she divulge that secret to the whole world but he wasn’t sure he could. He had found out so much about her in less than five hours that he wasn’t exactly sure who she was or what to believe.
“And you expect me to believe this” even though he realized he had started believe her.
“Please Jaiye, believe me. I know I have given you no reason to but you really need to believe me. Please” She pleaded. He nodded, took a long look at her and walked out of her office.
Nene sank into the chair and cried like a baby.
Tolu played the conversation she had recorded earlier again; she couldn’t believe her luck, what she couldn’t believe more was the secret the Fowler family was keeping.
Jare Fowler was gay and she couldn’t believe it even after playing it the fourth time.
She picked her phone and dialed her boss’ number.
“hello, I found our biggest story yet” she said, her face radiating.
“Jay, I don’t know what you, Junior and Jire think you are doing but I can’t do this.” Jo threw the cheque she had been given some minutes earlier on the table in front of Jaiye.
He was playing office golf and he looked like he had a lot on his mind. She did not know what it was exactly but it did weigh him down seriously. She didn’t think she had seen him that disturbed since their mother’s last major illness.
“It is not a big deal, Jo. You are only offering someone money to keep quiet” he said to her, his full concentration on the golf ball he was kicking into the hole.
“Someone whom you know so well…”
“Not as well as I thought” He said, he still couldn’t get over the discovery of Nene’s identity.
“But you know her more than me or any member of the family. I shouldn’t be the one going all the way to offer her money to shut up. This should be your job” she insisted.
He knew it was his place to be honest, but he couldn’t bring himself to face Nene just yet. He was angry at her—for the lies and for who she really was.
“This is all our responsibility Jo.” He said, now directing his attention to her. He looked more troubled than she thought, Jo noted. “When Jare chose to behave like an animal in the full glare of the public, he put all of us into this mess. If you have been chosen to take care of it this time, why don’t you?”
He didn’t give room for stories this time, “The driver is outside Jo. You need to hurry. Its almost closing hour and you might run into heavy traffic.”
Jo scoffed, grabbed Jaiye’s car keys and sashayed out of the office in her sky high heels.
Nene had not been expecting to see Jo Fowler in all her beauty and diva-ness. She looked perfect like a picture as usual in a knee length wrap dress and sky high heels, her hair tied in a chignon above her head.
“Hey snitch, so I hear you might be spilling our family secret” She said to her as soon as she got down from the car.
Nene didn’t know what to say, so as usual, she just viewed the beauty in front of her.
“I have been chosen by the gods of the Fowler Empire to deliver this cheque to you.”
Nene took the cheque from Jo’s manicured hand, her eyes catching the tangerine coloured nails that shone brightly.
She gasped as she realized the content of the cheque in her hands, five million naira? She couldn’t believe it and she couldn’t take it either. She had promised Jaiye to keep quiet and keeping quiet she would.
“I’m sorry I cannot take this. I have promised Jaiye I won’t say a word of what I saw and I don’t intend to. Now excuse me, I have to go and pick my little niece from my neighbor”
Jo wasn’t prepared for this; she had expected Nene to accept the money and this came as a shock to her. She didn’t know what to do. So she just stood there, cheque in hand, with nothing more than “oh” escaping from her mouth.
“Have a nice day Jo” She said and walked out of the office compound, grateful that the rain had stopped and the breeze was light.
She had reached home and was feeding her little niece before the next news that would shatter her world that day reached her. The news had come through her boss on her second phone. A phone she had almost forgotten about its existence until earlier in the day, when she had realized she needed another phone after destroying her only good phone. Her second phone was a battered Samsung phone but it still held her only sim card and could receive phone calls.
“So upon all the follow follow that you did, Tolu still brought this Fowler news to us first. Na wa o, we won’t be needing your services anymore by the way. You will get a mail to that effect immediately”
If the call had left her dazed, what she found on the internet when she googled the Fowlers left her momentarily paralyzed.
Tolu had found out the Fowler secret somehow and now it was all over the internet. She held her little niece tight and screamed in shock.