“This will calm your nerves.” Craig said as he handed Aisha a cup of coffee.
She stared at him as she collected the coffee. “I didn’t know coffee calmed nerves.” She replied.
He smiled and took his seat beside her. “I guess…”
He nodded with a smile. Aisha stared at him and smiled back. For the first time, she saw the charming smile with which Craig won his female conquests. The dimple that lurked around his cheek and, the slightly broken canine that his smile revealed and thick dark beards around his jaw made him absolutely gorgeous. She was taken by this. An awkward silence ensued as Craig’s eyes were all over her. Another thing he had going for him, his eyes were highly seductive. How could one man possess everything? Aisha blinked as his eyes probed her. She swallowed her coffee as she buried her head in the mug.
Craig knew she was beautiful. It was a fact that couldn’t be hidden. Aisha had beautiful white eyes and her tan brown skin colour was attractive. He loved the way her hair dropped slightly across her face and the smile he had seen on her face in the last minute provoked him. A smile could really be an ornament. He swallowed as he watched her drink the coffee. Beneath her large white eyes, he still knew he could see her sorrow. She might have fought well to hide it from the world, but when he hugged her, he knew she needed someone. Her heart had raced fast against his and even though he knew his heart did beat, he hoped she didn’t notice that. She was still drinking her coffee and she seemed not to notice him. He wondered why. ‘Wasn’t that smile good enough?’ he thought as he prepared himself to gain her attention. On a good day, he knew how to handle women, but Aisha had proved to be a challenge initially and he was willing to sustain the momentum, a wrong move now, and he would be the loser.
Aisha knew something had to be going on in his head. It was in her head too, but, she knew she was vulnerable. She was sad and finding it hard to push the sadness away, she knew she needed to work. Work always found a way of distracting her. She placed the mug by the side table and smiled at Craig. “Thank you.”
“Uh?” he gaped.
She smiled. “For the coffee.” She replied and walked inside.
Craig watched her leave as he hit his forehead in frustration. “Sh*t!”
Aisha drew the sheets over her as she lay in bed. She would try to sleep. For a moment out there, she knew was weak. She smiled at her foolishness. “You stupid girl.” She said to herself. She reached for her phone on the table and dialled Moira’s number. She was going to tell Moira what had happened, or what she prevented from happening. She thought in a split second that Moira would mock her, so she hung up. “Stupid Moira.” She said with a smile. “I won’t give you the satisfaction of saying “I told you so””, she said to herself as she returned her phone.
Aisha sprang as she heard a light knock on the door. Her heart raced fast again. She knew she had to tell Craig off. He was slowing breaking her defences with his presence. “What is it?” she called in a sleepy voice.
“Oh…I…I thought you needed something?” Craig replied from the other side of the door.
She grinned. “No, I don’t.”
“Oh…Okay. I’ll be here if you need anything.” He replied.
The voice went dead. She smiled as she slipped back beneath the sheet.
“I…I don’t mean I’ll be standing out here, you know?” he called back.
Aisha slammed her hand against the bed. “Goodnight, Craig.”
“Yeah…Night.” He replied.
She turned off her light. His footsteps drew away from the door as soon as she did that.
“So, Craig was warming up to you last night? Oh my God! Tell me you let him.” Moira said with a smile. “Give me the full gist, don’t hold back any detail.”
Aisha stared at Moira with a grimace. “What is your problem? Are you always this hmm…you know what I mean?”
“Say it. Bad child!” Moira replied with a smile.
Aisha smiled back as she focused on her laptop. “I was going to call you last night to tell you, but I changed my mind. I don’t even know why I spilled today.”
“That’s because you can’t keep a secret for too long, your eyes betray you a lot.” Moira replied as she took her seat on the table right in front of Aisha.
Aisha stared at her. “Moira, what are you doing? Do you know what will happen if anyone walks in and sees you sitting right before me like this?”
Moira shrugged. “What do I care?”
“I care about my reputation. I am not about to be slandered in the press, so get off my table.”
Moira smiled. “You are too cautious, Aisha. Live a little.”
“Yes, but not like this.” Aisha replied with a smile.
“Do you like him?” Moira asked, as she stared at Aisha.
Aisha scoffed. “Of course, not.”
“I think you have to be careful, Aisha.” Moira started as she returned to the chair.
Aisha stared at Moira who looked really serious. “What is it?”
“I am not too comfortable with Craig warming up to you.” She replied.
Aisha shrugged with a smile. “Why not? I am hot.”
Moira smiled. “For once, I like your sense of humour, but I am serious. I…I just think he might have bigger plans. This is a game, remember?”
“Moira…I think you should chill. What happened last night can’t repeat itself again, it only happened because I remembered my Mom and cried. I…I was weak, that’s all. I am back to normal.”
Moira shook her finger in disagreement. “What if you become vulnerable again, Aisha?”
“Moira, it is not every day that I get to feel bad about something. Just chill.”
Moira stared at Aisha with a great deal of concern. Aisha was right about not feeling bad every day. Moira wondered how she did it, she could just turn off her emotions and act all macho and other times, she could be totally miserable. Those were the days that bothered Moira.
Aisha looked up from her system and stared at Moira who looked lost. Aisha knew she bothered Moira a lot. “Let’s get food.”
“Uh?” Moira said as she jolted back to reality.
Aisha smiled. “Yeah, food.”
Aisha rolled her eyes. “Basic necessity for the body. Food. Let’s go eat.”
Moira nodded. “Of course.”
“Have you heard from Daniel?” Craig asked.
“Why are you bothered about him? I haven’t seen him since that burst.” Bolu replied without raising his head from the magazine he was reading.
“I believe he told Vicky. Do you think I should talk to Vicky?” Craig asked.
Bolu shrugged. “I don’t think you should hurt her more. Going to meet her will arouse false hopes, no time for that now. You need your pot of gold.”
Craig smiled. “Sure.”
“How is living with the Amazon going?” Bolu asked as he read from a magazine. “You do know that’s what they call her right?”
Craig raised an eyebrow.
“The business world, I mean. Read Celeb magazines, guy. Soon your face go dey there too as per Amazon’s boyfriend.” Bolu said as he passed a magazine to Craig.
Craig stared at the magazine. “What are they saying about her?”
“You can read, right?” Bolu asked with a smile. “There are figures of the profits she raked in last month in it, it will amaze you. She is a rich girl. In fact, she is flourishing.”
Craig stared at Aisha’s picture on the front cover. “She is beautiful.”
“Excuse me?” Craig didn’t hear Bolu as he stared at Aisha’s picture. Bolu noticed this and tapped Craig. “GUY!”
Craig rubbed his forehead as he dropped the magazine on the table. “What is it?” he asked defensively.
“Do you like this babe?” Bolu asked. Craig looked away. Bolu smiled. “Of course, why you no go like her? Money dey, the babe sef fresh, it’s only normal. When are you going to get in there? Leave for the boys o!” he said grinning.
Craig grabbed Bolu’s shirt aggressively. “Don’t!” he said through clenched teeth.
Bolu stared at him. “Easy, bro.”
Craig took a deep breath and released Bolu. “Never talk about her like that again.” Craig said as he adjusted his jacket. “I am off to work.”
“Guy, am sorry na. I didn’t know you like her.”
“I don’t like her. I just think she deserves some respect.” He replied.
Bolu nodded in agreement. “Okay. I am sorry, can we at least finish the drinks?”
Craig shrugged. “You can have it. I am out of here.”
“I hope you are saving money for after your divorce.” Bolu said with a smile.
Craig smiled. “I got my bases covered. See you.” He replied and walked away.
Bolu smiled as he continued drinking.
“Are you really leaving town?” Daniel asked as Vicky packed her bags.
Vicky stared at the bags. “Does it look like I am coming into town? Of course, I am leaving.”
“Are…Are you not putting up a fight?” Daniel asked.
She stared at him. “How much more do you want to see me humiliated?”
“Look, Vicky, I can’t let you go.” Daniel said.
“You’ll have to do more than turning my taxi away to stop me from leaving town. I have nothing left here.”
Daniel swallowed. “What about me? I love you, Vicky.”
“And I don’t.”
He nodded. “I understand. This is it, you love Craig, he doesn’t love you. I love you, you don’t love me. We are both scorned, we can make it work.”
“You sure have a perfect way of rubbing it in, don’t you?” she asked as she wiped a tear drop from her face.
“I am sorry, it’s…it’s just that you don’t deserve this, I don’t deserve it too. We can be happy. I’ll make you happy. I promise.” He begged.
Vicky took a deep breath. “Daniel, we won’t be happy. You know why? I don’t want to be happy with you. That’s a fact. You are not the kind of man that I want to be with. You are pitiful, ridiculous and not a very good friend. Everything you think you have done out of love for me has given me a clearer picture of who you are.”
Daniel swallowed. “This sucks.”
“It sucks, right? That’s what I think of you. You are a loser, a fake friend and you don’t deserve my love. If Craig won’t love because he loves his girlfriend, then fine. He probably would never love me.”
Daniel fumed. “Craig is a dirty bastard.”
“You are worse.” She replied. “Leave my house, Daniel.”
Daniel clenched his fist. “You don’t even know everything about Craig.”
“I know enough, I don’t want to know more.” She replied.
He blinked. “Really? Are you sure you don’t want me to tell you everything about that despicable fellow?”
The door opened and a young girl walked in. “Aunty Vicky, the cab is here.”
Vicky stared at Daniel. “Let me have a little good memory of you. Shut your mouth.” She replied and walked in to carry her bags with the young girl.
Daniel clenched his teeth angrily. Vicky brushed him as she walked past with her bag. He watched her go in and out of the house two more times with the young girl until the cab driver shut his trunk and Vicky slid into the back seat. He stood motionless, burning in anger and pain at everything that she had said to him. He stared at her from the front porch as she placed her against the window.
The cab took off and images of Vicky and the cab started to fade. He panicked and started to run. He chased and chased till he was tired and took solace on the floor.
“I am getting lonely in the house.” Moira said as they drove back to the office.
Aisha smiled. “I thought as much. I can come over tonight.”
“Really? That’s so great. Thank you.”
Aisha smiled. “Why are you thanking me? I said I can, I didn’t say I will.”
Moira rolled her eyes. “You are a monster.”
Aisha nodded as she pulled up in front of the office. She glanced at Moira as they saw Hakeem lurking around his car. “What does he want?”
“Oh well, you would have to ask him.” Moira said as she stepped out of the car.
Aisha watched from behind the wheels as Moira pecked Hakeem and left for the office. “Well played, Moira.” Aisha said as slammed the steering.
She took a deep breath as she approached Hakeem. “Hakeem, how are you?”
She nodded. “Yes, that’s my name. How are you?”
“I am doing fine. Do you have a minute?” he asked.
She shook her head in disagreement. “No. I…I am really busy these days, so much work to do.”
“Aisha, please give me audience.” Hakeem begged.
She rubbed her forehead. “What do you want, Hakeem?”
“I…I know how important yesterday was for you and your family.”
She smiled. “I have moved on. Is that all? Thank you. See you around.”
“That’s not all.”
She paused. “What is it?”
“Tell me about Craig.”
Aisha’s heart skipped a beat. “What do you mean?”
“I mean…who is he? What does he mean to you? Where did you guys meet?”
She folded her arms. “Are you investigating my boyfriend, Hakeem?”
“Alhaji told me not to. I won’t defy your father, but, I am a man who is in love with you. It hurts that you don’t love me, I just want to know if you are happy with him.”
She smiled widely. “YES. We are happy. Get over it.”
She shrugged. “Then I am sorry, it’s your loss.”
“Aisha, I don’t trust that guy.” Hakeem said. “I…I don’t think he is a good man.”
Aisha nodded. “That’s why you are not me, we don’t think alike.”
“Aisha, I want to leave the country.”
She nodded with a smile. “That’s good.”
“I know you can’t wait to get rid of me, but, before leaving I thought I should see you.”
Aisha smiled. “You have done well. Thanks for dropping by. Have a safe trip. Bye.” She said and hurried into the office leaving Hakeem standing outside.
Alhaji Ibrahim’s car pulled up before Hakeem. He stared at the car surprisingly. “Sir?”
Alhaji walked up to him. “I couldn’t travel, flight hitches, so I returned. Why are you out here?”
“I came to see Aisha, we have discussed. I was on my way.” Hakeem replied.
Alhaji took a deep breath. “Look son, I know how you feel about Aisha and I would lie if I say I don’t feel bad for you, but, I am more concerned about my daughter’s happiness. Do you understand?”
Hakeem nodded. “Of course. You are her father, you are looking out for her.”
“I think we should go and have drinks.” Alhaji suggested.
Hakeem shrugged. “Don’t you want to see your daughter?”
“I didn’t come back here to see her, I don’t want to bother her with my presence. I have a meeting with one of those men from Dubai. You know how they like to do business urgently, he just put a call through to me and said he’ll meet up, but I guess I’ll just divert him to meet me at the bar, he says he wants to sell merchandise.”
Hakeem nodded. “Let’s go then.”
Craig wasn’t sure if he was doing the right thing, but he was determined to do something. He punched the elevator button as he stared at his wristwatch. It was almost 7pm. He stepped out on the last floor. Aisha’s secretary smiled as she saw him and he smiled back. He was holding a branch of rose flower in his hand so he could guess why she was grinning almost mischievously. He knocked lightly and pushed the door to Aisha’s office open. Aisha and Moira stared at him. Moira grinned. “Hello, Craig.”
“Evening, ladies.” He said as he walked in.
“Getting too comfortable?” Aisha asked as Craig stretched out the rose flower.
He smiled. “It’s just a flower. Take it.”
“Why are you here?” she asked.
Moira stared at the flower. “Take the flower first.”
“No. There is something attached to him bearing a rose branch.” She replied. “Why are you here, Craig?”
“I came to take you out for dinner.”
Moira smiled. “Hmmm…”
“Declined.” Aisha replied.
Craig smiled. “You can’t say no. It’s not an option.”
“And why not?” she asked.
“Dinner is at your house. I just cooked. I don’t want it to be cold.”
Moira smiled. “Nice.”
“Can Moira join?” Aisha asked with a smile.
Craig stared at them. “Of course, why not?”
“Except that I am very busy tonight, Aisha. I am sorry, some other time.”
Aisha’s eyes popped as she stared at Moira. “She-devil.”
Moira nodded. “I know. You guys have a nice time. I would join you next time.” She said standing up.
She smiled at Craig and whispered into his ears. “Next time, try another lie.”
Craig smiled as she walked out. “So, shall we?”
“Where are you taking me?” she asked.
“Can you keep a secret?” he asked.
She nodded. “Largely depends.”
“I’m not telling you.” He replied.
“Is that your secret?” she asked.
He nodded in agreement. “Let’s go.”
“Your Dubai business dealer isn’t here yet, it’s been thirty minutes.” Hakeem said.
Alhaji Ibrahim drew up his sleeves to check the time. “He would soon be here, you know how those people are. Let’s talk about you. Your Dad told me that you would be leaving town, I think it will help you get a lot of things off your chest.”
Hakeem nodded. “I hope it does. I can’t seem to get over the fact that Aisha is with someone else. It is very hard for me.”
Alhaji nodded. “I know it is not very pleasant. Life doesn’t always give us what we want. We learn to deal with what comes our way.”
“Why do you trust that guy so much, Alhaji? I…I just don’t feel him.” Hakeem replied as he sipped his drink.
Alhaji shrugged. “I understand how you feel, you are in a competition with the man. I don’t expect you to trust him.”
“It’s…It’s just that he suddenly appeared out of nowhere without any warnings or signs. I mean, we didn’t know he existed, all of a sudden, he started existing.”
“He has been existing for a while now, Hakeem. He wasn’t born last week. Son, I did my check on him, he is not an alien. He is a hardworking young man and he loves Aisha. That’s all that counts. If you love her as much as you claim, let her be happy. I think she loves this guy.”
Hakeem shook his head sadly. “I just want to be selfish right now, but she is not even looking in my direction.”
“Learn to get over it, Hakeem. Learn.”
Hakeem nodded. “I am trying. It is not the easiest thing to do, Alhaji.” He replied. “I have to leave now, there are still some things I haven’t sorted out regarding my trip.”
“Take advantage of the trip to find you some happiness.” Alhaji advised. “You can be rest assured that regardless of what happens, you still have me as a friend.”
“So, what’s the plan? Are we just going to stroll in the sand?” Aisha asked as she stared at her feet.
Craig nodded. “I am holding your shoes, you shouldn’t mind.” He replied. “I set up a little dinner for us here.”
“Oh! You should have told me earlier, I would have alerted the press, at least, something romantic to top their list.” She said painfully.
Craig swallowed. “Why don’t you appreciate the privacy of this dinner?” he asked as they walked towards the table.
“Because it is awkward. There is actually nothing between you and I and you shouldn’t set up things like this if we are not trying to get the press’ attention.” She said as she took her seat.
Craig nodded. “What if there could be something between us?”
“There can never be, and you know it.” She replied smiling.
A waiter approached them and attended to them.
Craig poured her glass. “Bon appetite.”
She smiled as she sipped the wine. “Thank you.”
“So, when do I have to propose to you?” Craig asked.
She stopped as she stared at him. “Are we not rushing things? That would be unbelievable to my Dad.”
“I don’t think so, we have managed to convince him, I think I should propose to you soon, so, we can get married and get divorced too.”
She dropped her glass as she stared at him.
A man approached Alhaji Ibrahim in a black suit. “Alhaji Ibrahim?”
Alhaji nodded. “Yes? Who are you?”
“You are expecting me.” He replied.
Alhaji stared at him. “You are not Arabian.”
He nodded. “I know but I needed to see you, so I had to make up something.”
“I am calling security.” Alhaji said as he picked his phone.
“Don’t do it…at least, not yet.”
Alhaji dropped his phone. “What do you want?”
“My name is Daniel. I have information about your daughter’s boyfriend. Craig.”