Alhaji Ibrahim took a close look at Daniel and then at his wristwatch. “Who did you say you are again?”
“My name is Daniel.” Daniel replied, sounding more confident than the first time.
Alhaji blinked as he swallowed. “Why do you want to give me information about Craig?”
Daniel took a deep breath. “Because I think you are a good man and do not deserve to be fooled in the manner in which you are being fooled.”
Alhaji ran his eyes over Daniel. “No one is good except God. Why should I believe anything you tell me about Craig?”
“Because I am his friend.”
Alhaji swallowed. “His friend? What do you have to say?”
Daniel motioned towards a seat. “May I?”
Alhaji nodded in agreement as Daniel took his seat. “Hurry up.”
“Sir, Craig and Aisha are not in love. They have an agreement to be in a relationship.” Daniel said bluntly.
Alhaji took a deep breath and relaxed in his seat.
“Why are you in such a hurry to get married? We have to be careful with this thing you know?” Aisha said as she folded her arm.
Craig nodded. “I know but I think the earlier, the better. I want to get my life back on track as soon as possible and I don’t think fooling your Dad for so long is such a great idea.”
“Since when did you start to care about my father’s emotions? I don’t.”
Craig shrugged. “Well, I do.”
Aisha nodded slowly as she sipped her drink. “We would get married when I think it is time and get divorced as appropriate too.”
“I would appreciate it if your timing is sped up.” Craig replied as he fetched his drink.
Aisha stared at him as he gulped angrily. A smile lurked around her lip as she shook her head. “You suck at losing.”
He dropped the glass. “What do you mean?”
“You are starting to like me, aren’t you?” she asked.
Craig smiled. “You flatter yourself. I am tired of you.”
“No, you are not. You planned ‘this’ to see if you could get to my heart, sorry, it didn’t work.” She replied as she dug her fork into the food. “Besides, it is a tasty meal. Thank you for it.”
Craig smiled as he watched her eat.
Alhaji wiped his forehead with his handkerchief from all he had heard. The sweat now trickled down to his back and he could feel them between his thighs too. His eyes were red hot, not out of anger, but out of the tears that welled in them. Could Aisha be fooling him? Was there any crime in loving his daughter?
Daniel watched Alhaji’s facial expression and the old man didn’t look well. “Sir?”
“Please continue. So, Craig is no hot shot, right?”
Daniel nodded in the affirmative. “He is a lowlife with nothing until he met Aisha and his meeting with Aisha is what has funded his pockets. Sir, to be honest, I stand nothing to gain from telling you all these but I just want you to know the truth before it is too late.”
“You expect me to confirm this, right?”
Daniel nodded. “Yes and that is why I provided my name. I want you to use it so that Craig would know that his secrets are all out.”
Alhaji picked his phones from the table. “Is that all?”
“Yes, Sir.” Daniel said, standing up.
“Thank you very much, Daniel.”
Daniel smiled. “It is my pleasure.”
“I know it is.” Alhaji replied standing up. “Anyway, I don’t think you should say you are Craig’s friend. A friend won’t actually do what you just did. Be that as it may, I am grateful.” Alhaji replied and walked away.
Craig wiped some food off his mouth. “So, we are here alone, without the press. I want to know you more, Aisha.”
“Pick up any business magazine from you vendor. All you need to know about me is there.” She replied as she drank some water.
He nodded as he fetched a magazine. “I already did. I don’t want the Aisha there. I want you. I want to know you.”
She smiled. “There is nothing to know apart from the woman in the magazine.”
“Really?” he asked, standing up.
She nodded in agreement as she fetched her phone. It was time to ping Moira. She had no idea of what Craig was up to, he seemed to be doing too much and she didn’t like that. Craig smiled and walked away.
AISHA: Hey Idiot! I am in trouble here, SOS!
MOIRA: Do I call the Police or SWAT team? Lol. What’s up, babe?”
AISHA: Craig just stepped away and I don’t like what am seeing here, he organised a private dinner for us here.
MOIRA: Ouch! And I don’t like that gown you wore o! I think he wore a tux, shey?
AISHA: Are u high? I am talking about a private dinner on the beach! This is not funny again.
MOIRA: Take a picture please of the set, I want to see it. Omg! Such a romantic scene *puppy eyes* Shame am not there. Who’s gonna love me? *tears*
AISHA: Moira, I don’t like how this is going. I need you to help me.
MOIRA: Chill babe. It’s just dinner. Food, essential commodity for the body. Remember?”
AISHA: This is turning into more than food. I can’t stand what he is doing; he wants to know me more. His own terms.
MOIRA: There is no harm in a little bond, Look, Aisha, u r gonna have to try to blend with your Dear Future Husband.
AISHA: Moira, this is not funny. What do I do? I need to get out of here. I think Craig likes me. Like Likes me.
MOIRA: LOL! Aisha, you are so full of it. The Dude wants Sex and Money from you, simple. Besides, if you run now, you are going to give him the impression that you like him too and that is where the danger lies. Be careful, lady. Mommy is warning you. *wide grin*
AISHA: Shut up, man!
MOIRA: Just play along with him, don’t try to act tough, be free, and you’ll survive the dinner. Anyway, I have to sleep now. Some of us are lonely.
AISHA: Wait! He is coming, what do I say? Do I ask where he went too?
Aisha stared at the message as Moira read it but didn’t reply. She hissed as she tossed the phone back in her purse.
“Can you come with me, please?” Craig asked.
In her heart, she smiled. She didn’t have to ask any question, but she was worried. What was Craig planning again that could be worse than a dinner? Maybe a bedroom in the sand? Her heart skipped as the thought passed through her mind.
She was hesitant to stand up from the chair. “Why?”
“You just have to follow me. Try to trust me a little.”
She swallowed as she took his hand and went with him.
Moira rolled over her bed as sleep wouldn’t come. She was actually sleeping when Aisha had ‘pinged’ her with her emergency. The doorbell chimed or had she heard wrong. Who would be calling the house at this time of the night? It had to be Aisha else the security men wouldn’t have let the visitor in. At least, not this late.
She tossed the sheets away and slipped into her slippers. She hurried downstairs and straight to the door. She paused as she approached the door. Aisha had her own key; she would have let herself in.
The doorbell chimed again and her heart raced faster. What if robbers had found their way into the house? She drew closer to the door with fear and peeped through the hole. She was afraid. Robbers would have been a much better guest than Alhaji Ibrahim at this time of the night.
Alhaji Ibrahim stepped aside and walked into the house.
“Aisha is not here, Sir.”
Alhaji Ibrahim nodded as he took his seat. “She is with that phoney, right?”
Moira’s heart skipped a beat. “Phoney?”
“Don’t mind me.” He replied with a smile. “I was around the corner for some drinks when I decided to stop over to pay you girls a visit.”
Moira swallowed as she took her seat beside Alhaji. “Sir, Aisha lives with Craig, you know?”
Alhaji Ibrahim smiled. “I think I am aware of that. Anyway, we can have a conversation like father and daughter, just as always.”
“Okay, Sir. Okay.” Moira said as she stared at Alhaji. She knew all wasn’t well.
Alhaji took a deep breath. “I was with Hakeem today. He doesn’t seem to like Craig much which is very understandable but I want to know your own impression of Craig. What do you think about our Aisha’s boyfriend?”
Moira blinked as she smiled. “Craig is Aisha’s type of man. They complement each other, they help their flaws and weaknesses and I’d say they’ll make a perfect couple.”
Alhaji nodded slowly. “Can I have a drink?”
YES!!! Moira had been waiting for the opportunity to run in to ping Aisha. “Of course, Sir.” She said with a smile and hurried to the kitchen.
Moira stared at her pings as they delivered without Aisha reading it. She fumed at it and poured Alhaji’s drink.
“Why did you take so long? Alhaji asked as Moira joined him with his drink. “Let me guess, you were alerting Aisha of my presence?” he asked with a smile collecting the drink.
Moira raised an eyebrow. “Me? No. I couldn’t do that.”
He laughed and then took his drink. He replaced the glass by the side of the table. “Prior to this moment, you have been excellent in telling lies, you just disappointed me.”
“Come on, Alhaji, I agree I ‘pinged’ her but she is not aware of your presence.” Moira replied.
He nodded, “That’s a good thing. I need to talk to you about something.”
Oh God! Moira stared at Alhaji. “Can I get a glass of water?”
He nodded with a smile. “As long as you don’t tell Aisha that I am here, at least…not yet.”
Moira nodded. “I can do that.”
“Please do it for me, I want to surprise her.” He replied.
Moira rose to her feet, “Trust me, she is already surprised in advance.”
With that Moira scampered off into the kitchen and of course, she tried to dial Aisha again but to no avail. “Where are you???” she groaned as she slammed the door of the fridge.
“Where are we going?” Aisha asked.
Craig smiled. “I told you to trust me, didn’t I?”
“Well, you did, but I didn’t actually enjoy you bringing me to this place for a private dinner without the press.”
Craig nodded. “I apologise for that. It won’t repeat itself again.”
“Good. So, where are we going to now?”
He shrugged. “I want to surprise you.”
“I am already surprised. I can’t believe I am even walking with you to never land. Besides, I forgot my phone, I should go and get it,”
Craig stared at her with a smile. “You saw Peter Pan?”
“Every kid saw Peter Pan.”
“Not me. I didn’t.”
She rolled her eyes. “And I guess your knowledge of Peter Pan came from the wind?”
“That’s more like it.” He replied with a smile. He stopped and then fetched a neck tie from his pocket. “I am going to blindfold you.”
She shook her head in disagreement. “I know I should have taken my phone. You are a serial killer, right?”
He smiled as he stood behind her. “No. But if you want me to be, I don’t mind.”
She took a deep breath. “You are creeping me out.”
“Really?” he asked as he whispered into her ears.
His cologne filled her nostrils as he leaned closer. She wasn’t sure but it seemed he just wore it. He placed the necktie over her eyes and tied it firmly but carefully. “Can you see anything?” he asked.
“Nothing.” She replied.
He smiled. “I’ll take the lead.”
Daniel sipped his drink by the bar burdened with guilt from what he had told Alhaji and filled with pain from losing Vicky. He had done what seemed logical to him at that moment. He had his love scorned while Craig had love and money offered to him. No man should be that lucky. He thought aloud. “It should have been me. I owned that stand, not Craig. Aisha should have met me, not him.” He said as he drank.
Daniel turned to see Bolu. Bolu smiled as he took his seat beside Daniel. “Guy, you look fresh o! Did you have a job interview?” Bolu asked, staring at the suit.
Bolu swallowed as he cursed his luck inaudibly. He had come to the bar right from meeting Alhaji. “Not really an interview, but it was successful.”
Bolu smiled. “That’s good. I heard Vicky left town.”
Daniel nodded in agreement. “Yes, she did.”
“How are you?”
Daniel shrugged as he focused on the drink. “I am well. I don’t feel sad.”
“Are you sure? That’s good. It’s nice to see you taking it in good strides.”
Daniel sipped his drink. “Do I have an alternative?”
“Oh well…Look Dan, you do know that Craig loves you as a brother, right?” Bolu started. “All this friction between us isn’t cool, Craig would marry Aisha soon and all this would be over.”
Daniel scoffed. “And then he would go looking for Vicky, right? She is obviously the only lady that can actually love him.”
“Come on, man. I hate the tension between us. We used to be very happy.”
“Point of correction, you have always been content with the way that Craig has treated us and that is because you might have no ambitions after all.”
Bolu stared at him and then laughed. “Guy, wetin dey do you? Craig na our guy na and he is always there for us.”
“What are you doing for yourself? You quit the mall to run Craig’s errands. When the divorce is over, Craig would have some proceeds from the divorce and he won’t share it with you. It is then you would realise how selfish and greedy Craig is.” Daniel ranted.
Bolu took a deep breath. “I don’t know what to say, man. You keep surprising me every time. We grew up together and for the times and everything, I am trying to mend the fence but it seems like you want nothing to do with us.”
“There! You got it! I am done with you guys! Give up!” Daniel concluded as he gulped his drink.
“I am going to call off the agreement I have with Aisha.” Alhaji said.
Moira stared at him with a great deal of surprise and worry. She tried to hide her worried look with a smile. “That…That would delight Aisha a lot.”
“I know.” He replied with a smile.
Moira drank some water. “So, why the sudden change of mind?”
“I admire the relationship between Aisha and Craig but I feel I would not be supportive of them with that agreement being on.”
Moira shrugged. “Does it really matter, Alhaji?”
“It does, Moira. It does.” Alhaji replied.
Moira drank some more water and then faced Alhaji. “Sir, I think you are driving at something. Whatever it is, I want you to know that Aisha loves you and the best way to show your love to her is by supporting her decisions.”
“I support her decisions, Moira. I do.”
She nodded in agreement. “Sir, what I really don’t understand is why you want to cut the agreement you had with her.”
“Moira, it is a good thing, isn’t it? I am relieving her of the pressure that I put her under by saying she has to get married before getting her inheritance. I don’t think I am doing anything wrong here.” He replied. “Why do you think what I am doing is wrong?”
Moira shrugged as she took a deep breath. “I think I am really tired tonight, that’s why.”
Alhaji Ibrahim nodded. “That’s probably why.”
“When do you intend to tell this to Aisha?” Moira asked.
Alhaji paused for a while. “I have not actually thought about it, but I don’t want you to tell her before I do. I actually came to you to know your own opinion of it.”
“Well, I think it is a very good thing to do. Aisha would be very happy to hear that, Sir.”
He nodded. “I know she would be.”
Moira yawned so as to set Alhaji on his way. “I am sorry, I am just so tired.”
Alhaji rose to his feet. “Sorry for coming this late, I just thought to let you know about it first.”
Moira smiled. “Thank you, Sir. It’s okay.”
“See you later.” He said and walked out.
Moira shut the door after Alhaji and immediately dashed in to call Aisha.
Aisha couldn’t see anything. It was really dark. She was blindfolded. “Are we there yet?” she asked.
“You should be scared. I might be a serial killer.” Craig said in a comical voice.
“Very funny, Craig. Very funny.” She replied. “But really, where are we going, Craig? We have been walking for a long time now.”
“Where are we, Aisha?” Craig asked.
She hissed. “How am I supposed to know that? I am the one with the blindfolds, in case you haven’t noticed.” She replied. “Anyway, I still feel the sands so we are obviously still at the beach.”
“That’s right, anyway, we are almost there. Just a couple steps more and all this would be over.” He replied.
“How many more steps, Craig?”
He smiled. “Keep your hands on your thighs.” He said as he led her to a seat. “I’ll take your blindfolds off now.”
Aisha took her seat and kept her hands on her thighs. Finally! Her blindfolds came off slowly. Before her stood a giant Piano. She shut her eyes and opened them again as she stroked her fingers against the chords. She tapped the chords again and then stared at Craig. “What is this?” she asked. Her tone was low and subtle. Nothing like her normal self. Craig had actually reached out to her heart.
Craig got down on one knee and stretched out a ring before her. “Will you marry me, Aisha?”