Pamela took a seat on the worn-out three-sitter and tucked her legs underneath her. She opened the plastic bowl and devoured the chopped fruits inside. The pineapple was already acidic and had rubbed off it’s taste on the other fruits. It took her less than twenty minutes to be done with it and she tossed the bowl on the centre table and gulped down a bottle of cold water. She stretched and a yawn escaped her lips. She was beyond exhausted.
Gosh, I wish Efe was here. She would make something to eat.
The little meal didn’t do justice to quenching her hunger, and what she felt like was burger and French-fries with a cold drink. But then all the junk-food would make her work extra hard at her dream and she wasn’t ready for all that stress. Especially with her serving in a company that took most of her time and energy.
She picked up her phone and checked updates on BBM and Instagram. There was a couple trending on Instagram for the last couple of months. She went to the wife’s handle and went through her posts. Their love story was so touching to Pamela. The love the man had for his wife was so rare… in short… it was out of this world. She couldn’t really imagine how it would be for a man to love her that much. It seemed true only in movies or all those Mexican soaps . . . Would she ever find someone like that in this life? She didn’t have such an example in her parents, they made getting married look like a nightmare!
Pamela didn’t want to think about it. It just made her annoyed and moody. She wasn’t too bothered about whether or not she was in a relationship. To her, being in a relationship wasn’t the most important thing in her life. She just wanted to be successful; make a name for herself among the elites.
She wanted to be invited to launches and functions and have her photograph taken and put on magazines and newspapers. She also wanted to own her own modelling agency in the distant future. She had big dreams. It could only happen if she kept aside what everyone expected and wanted for her and all the troubles she currently faced in her life. None of which she wanted to think about at that moment.
Her friend, Feyi, was supposed to call her about the modelling opportunity that came up. An opportunity to model for a popular fashion designer that was doing a photo-shoot of German recent designs in Calabar sometime next month. The thought of it excited her and she could hardly wait. If she got the deal it could make her big in no time. She could already imagine doing catwalks on runways and her face on billboards and magazines. Her father would have no cause to look down on her.
Her phone rang and she picked it up when she saw the caller ID.
“Pam you have to take a cab right now and head over to Flow’s studio.”
Feyi rattled off the address. “Come quickly and put on something sexy and wear push-up bra as well. Something exciting.”
In other-words dress like a prostitute? Pamela got off to her feet. “I yaf heard. I would be there soon. Thanks.”
She hurried off to the room and picked out an outfit she knew made her look hot and model material, and a bra she had recently bought and changed her underwear as well. She dressed up then sprayed perfume at different spots of her body. Efe had gone to the market but Pamela had already told her to take her own key just in-case.
Pamela took one last look at the mirror and admired herself.
She was set to go.
He staggered to his bed. Fatigue and sleep taking over his mental being. Work had been hectic and he was too tired to head to the kitchen and cook. He was supposed to pick up Ulunma from his parent’s house but he wasn’t ready for another confrontation with his father. The last time he had been there was disastrous with his father insulting him. He shook his head and took off his shoes. Not this night. He would pick his daughter up tomorrow morning.
Daniel took off his jacket and tie and tossed it on a nearby chair but it fell to the floor. He didn’t bother to pick it up. He got off his trousers and did the same thing to it.
He didn’t qualify himself as drunk. He just had too many to drink and had a massive headache. He knew he couldn’t continue living his life this way. He was just tired of how things seemed to be going down the drain and all because of what? He couldn’t get a grip on himself. His mother was worried about him and she had voiced out her worries over the phone when he called to say he wasn’t picking Ulunma up. She needn’t worry. She just had to pray Adesewa gave him another chance.
It was eleven in the morning when Daniel finally got out of his apartment. The sight of Ulunma playing with a toy on the floor brought joy to him. It annoyed him that every-time he glanced at her he remembered Efe. Is that part of the reason why I delay in picking her? He hoped not. His daughter had nothing to do with what was happening between him and Efe.
“Oh! So he finally decides to come.” His father clapped for him loudly and Ulunma looked up at her grandfather as he walked out. Her toy temporarily forgotten.
Daniel grated his teeth. He wondered where his mother was.
“Good morning dad.”
“What is so good about the morning? Seeing your disgraceful self?”
Daniel didn’t have anything to say and it seemed to infuriate his father the more.
“I’m talking to you!”
“Dad what do you want me to say? I’ve listened to you insult me over and over again. I don’t have anything to say to you because if I do it would be considered as rude!”
“Talk nau! I want you to talk. Shebi you do whatever you like these days; You drink yourself to stupor and behave stupid! Like you don’t have parents that trained you up right. You need someone to talk sense to you but then you’re too thick-headed to listen! You behave like you know all things of which you don’t.”
Daniel let out an exasperated sigh. “Dad please. I only came to pick my daughter up and I would be on my way. Please let’s not argue Aren’t you tired of it all?”
His father was closer to him now. “I’m tired of seeing your face. As you’re taking Ulunma now, don’t come back to this house. You are banned from showing your face her. I love my grand-daughter and so I would have preferred she stay here until you get your act together. You can make that decision and bring her back, but as for you stay away. I never want to see you again until you come to your senses.”
As she cooked she remembered how the evening had played out with her boss. She had been annoyed at the manner at which he carried out his plan. She had every mind to pick up her bags and leave him with his expensive food and his arrogant attitude, and so she did. With her belongings in hand she walked out on him and took quick steps to the elevator. She didn’t care what the consequences would be. She was sick and tired of being walked on and treated as if she was nothing.
She didn’t get on the elevator as he grabbed her arm and spun her around to look at him. His eyes intensely dark and his lips slightly pink. She snapped her eyes away from them and yanked her hand off him before she was pulled to do she added to the long list of things she regretted.
“Efe what’s the problem?”
“I want to go home!”
“What about the food I brought for the both of us? You want it to go to waste?”
Efe scoffed. “Did I ask you to buy anything for me?”
“No, but I thought you would need it since you had such a long day and I want to spend more time with you.”
“Whose fault is it that I had a long day? You purposely made me go through all that stress so you could meet your selfish needs!” Efe realized she might be crossing the line talking to her boss in such a manner, but he had to understand she wasn’t one of those girls he could use and throw away when he was done. She wasn’t even available to be used in the first place!
“Efe please calm down. Okay, I’m sorry I did what I did. I’m sorry I let you go through a lot of stress today so I could delay you in the office while I went to get something for us to eat. I’m sorry I had to stand in a loooonnng queue just to get this meal. I’m sorry I almost had an accident because I was rushing to meet you so you wouldn’t leave. I did all that ’cause I care about you and don’t want to see you sad. Please, forgive me.”
Did he almost have an accident while rushing to meet me? Does that mean he really cares? But even if he went though all that stress it doesn’t make what he did justifiable!
Efe pushed him aside and grudgingly went to her table as he followed her. She couldn’t see the smile on his face ‘cause she was backing him. She looked at all the contents, took what she wanted and placed it in a nylon bag.
“Thanks for the food. I would eat mine at home.”
She didn’t miss the smile on his face drop. “But that’s not the arrangement.”
It was her turn to smile. “Sorry, but now it is. Good night sir.”
She had walked away, proud to be able to place the stunned look on his face. She was done with waiting on a man. If Daniel, or any other man, wanted her he would have to work hard to get her.
It was obvious Daniel wanted nothing more to do with her. He had hardly called her during the past months. She had called him a few times to ask how he was doing, and all the occasions she called he didn’t sound interested in talking to her.
Efe turned off the camp gas and lifted the small pot to the kitchen counter. Lately she had a craving for Calabar dishes, having tasted a few in a joint not far from the apartment and she had bonded with the owner of the place who shared the recipe of Ekpang Nkukwo, an amazing dish of grated coco-yam in spinach leaves with periwinkles, crayfish and all sorts.
This is what Daniel is missing . . . I would have loved to make this for him. . .
She drove away the thoughts. It didn’t matter any-more, she was moving on with her life. The pains of the past needed to be let go. Amanze’s handsome face came to mind almost immediately she made that decision and she shook her head. She wasn’t going to fall for him. She needed to pick up the pieces of her that were broken and get her life in order.
“God I don’t know what to do any-more. I’m hurt and I’m tired of everything. Tired of loving Daniel. Tired of waiting for him. Just let me be.”
Efe didn’t wait for a reply, nor was she expecting one. She carried her food to her room and opened her laptop. She was going to eat and watch a movie or two, call her daughter, sleep and read her bible later on. The day was already planned out and she would enjoy it as best as she could.
All his life he had lived like a prince, being the only child of his parents. Two women that brought him up to be who he was; his mother and his grandmother. The two most important people in his life that had taught him to stand up for what he wanted in life and he could be whomever he wanted to be as long as he worked hard for it.
He had worked hard all the way from primary school till university having won a scholarship when his mother couldn’t afford to pay his school fees when she was retrenched from her job. He had to struggle with a side job and trying to keep up with school. He was able to make it and got himself into the company through a few connections.
As for his love-life, a few ladies, whenever they got to hear of his background, thought him to be a ladies man or ‘woman wrapper’. He didn’t care about all that. He had learnt where to place them so there wasn’t any conflict. But still his love life was non-existent.
The afternoon breeze brought in a heat that grazed his cheek and snapped him back to reality where he was seated at the verandah of his mother’s house with his grand-mother.
Amanze rubbed his hand over his face and sighed.
“Why are you worried young man?”
He smiled at the usage of the words ‘young man’. “Who said I am?”
“Because I know you.”
He smiled at his grandmother.
“I know you do. I’m just thinking about my life-”
“And finally settling down? That’s very important Amanze. Why won’t you just settle down with that girl?”
Amanze wasn’t in the mood to hear about that. “Mama there’s someone else that may have caught my attention and I’m sure you would like her as well.”
His grandmother smiled. “Wonderful. This is good news. Who is she? The daughter of one of your mother’s friends? Is it Cynthia or Veronica?”
He shook his head and laughed in his mind at how much their names and personality were similar. His mother’s friends daughters were just women that wanted to climb the social ladder and suck him dry of all his hard earned money. He wasn’t going to fall for that.
“No, mama. You don’t know her. It’s sort of complicated. She has a lot going on for her now and I don’t know how to help out. I’ve tried getting close to her but it’s like the closer I get the more she wants to run away.”
“Amanze when would you learn? Does a flower blossom in a closed place or in an open environment?”
“Mama I can argue for both being possible . . .”
She clucked her tongue. “Don’t be smart with me. If you put a flower in the palm of your hands and close it, would the flower survive?”
“Err – no.”
“So let her be. Don’t kill her with you chasing her too much. Give her time. Be a friend and understand her. You would win her heart in no time.”
“But I feel like calling and asking how she is doing . . . I think I messed up on Friday.”
His grandmother chuckled. “I see you really like this girl . . . What did you do to her?”
Amanze went on to explain everything that happened and how she walked out on him and too the food she wanted. He had his dinner at his home all by himself.
“I like that girl. After all the stress you put her through why wouldn’t she be angry?” She threw an insult at him in Calabar. “You have grown up with your mother and I and yet you still behave as if you haven’t learnt anything! I would have knocked your head if not that the arthritis has affected my hand too much.”
He frowned. He hated to hear his grandmother was in pain. “Mama have you been taking your medications?”
“Amanze did you brush your teeth this morning?”
He sighed. “Sorry for asking.”
She smacked her thigh and leaned close to him. “Now let me tell you what you can do for that girl you have hurt.”
He smiled as he listened to his grandmother.
“Take your clothes off.”
Pamela looked at the guy holding the camera like he had said he was a man who liked to wear make-up, ‘cause what he said was insane. “What?!”
He didn’t look up from his camera as he said again, “Take. Your. Clothes. Off.” He repeated.
She didn’t know what irked her more; the way he spoke to her as if she was a child or the ridiculous thing he wanted her to do. They had spent that last thirty-minutes taking pictures of her and from his facial expression she knew things weren’t going so well. But now this?
“B-but what does taking my clothes off have anything to do with taking photo-shoots or head-shots?” Where is Feyi sef? She should come and save me from this man!
Rex, the guy in question, dropped his camera and walked over to a high-table and placed it there. If he drops his camera ehn . . . You better start begging because you have vexed him, Feyi’s voice had whispered to her before she went into the studio.
“Why are you dropping your camera? Did I do something wrong?”
He didn’t answer her. He looked bored, irritated and tired. He took his seat on a stool and looked at her. “You obviously know little about modelling. Listen up newbie, your dressing isn’t the most important thing to me when taking your head-shots. I don’t need to look at your,” He gestured at her, “fancy jewellery or your bum-shorts or high-heels or your fancy lacy bra or whatever else you are wearing there.”
Pamela gasped. How does he know the type of bra I’m wearing?
“What I need is your attitude. Be confident. Be free. Let me see you and not what you’re wearing. Express yourself. I actually need you to remove your jacket and not your entire clothes so I can get a picture of you. You want someone to say your dressing looks good or you rock at selling yourself?”
She nodded. “I understand.” She made to take off her jacket but he stopped her.
“I’m done for the day. You can come back when I’m in Calabar again.”
“When would that be?”
“Next three weeks.” He said.
She felt her heart literally drop to her stomach.
“By that time the photo-shoot for the magazine would be done.”
“Please, I’m really sorry I took much of your time. I promise not to disappoint again.”
He shook his head. “Babe, I have a flight to Lagos to catch in the next two hours. I don’t have time to waste.”
Pamela felt tears fill her eyes and she bit her lip and looked at her feet. She could hear her father tell her she was never going to succeed in life and her mother pleading with him to stop. She knew she couldn’t afford to fail. The only thing that came to mind to salvage her current situation was something she had never done before. She knew he was watching her and affirmed it when she looked up at him and with as much courage she could summon up, she asked, “I-If I buy your time in another way, would it be possible?”
Rex raised his brow at her.
Adesewa closed her laptop and turned on her phone. As usual, whenever she had work to get done she had to put it on silence or switch off. Ever since she started processing KENZEL, her auditing and consulting company, she had been swamped with work. Three months ago she realized she couldn’t do it all on her own and had partnered with a foreign affiliate in Ghana who had been a client of hers back at her old job.
She was shocked when the man heard word of her leaving the company and was interested in partnering with her. She hated the idea of having someone have part-ownership of her company but she had no choice. And it didn’t help that she had a nagging feeling about the whole thing. She thought it was probably because she had a disliking for partnering with someone else and not having sole ownership of her company that she felt that way. Either ways, it seemed everything was going to turn out well. God had been good to her in more ways than she expected.
Her partner, Kobina, was a cool-headed guy but also looked like a man that had gone through a lot in his life. He had that mysterious air around him that made one curious enough to ponder on it and cautious enough to retreat. Adesewa wasn’t too sure how to place him yet. Nevertheless, he was a crude business partner. The company would be opening in two weeks time and there were still a lot of things to get done.
Adesewa got up from her chair and stretched her arms. The sounds of incoming messages filled her medium-sized office and she picked up her phone and went through them. Emails and Instagram notifications. Random messages and broadcasts. Her eye caught-on to a message from Ebuka and she tapped it.
As usual your phone is off. I figure you’re busy. Hope you’re doing okay from the last time you were over. Please let me know if Daniel tries anything like that with you again. Also, don’t be a stranger. 🙂
P.S I miss you.
She smiled. Things didn’t work out between her and Ebuka and they had decided to remain friends; getting closer by the day. He couldn’t keep up with her world as he said, ‘but I know one day I will; nothing is written in stone’. It was fine by her. She hadn’t also been comfortable with their relationship and didn’t want to force something that was not. Being single wasn’t the worst thing in life, unlike what other people her age would probably think.
She had a whole lot ahead of her and had to stay focus even as she worked on her relationship with God. Unfortunately, her parents didn’t share the same logic with her. They were now on her case to settle down.
“Adesewa Omo Shonibare, life doesn’t wait for you while you achieve your dreams. You need to factor in a husband now.” Her mother had said to her two days ago, as that was the second time in a week she had mentioned it.
“What happened to that other boy you liked? All of a sudden we stopped hearing about him.”
“Things didn’t work out between us.”
Her had mum snorted. “And so? Is it so bad that you can’t patch things up? You children of nowadays. You are waiting for a perfect man that does not exist. Look at your father, is he perfect?”
“Ah! In every sense of the way!” Her father had yelled in the background and caused Adesewa to chuckle.
“Mum, he’s married now. There’s nothing to patch up.”
“Oh. That’s a shame. And I liked him o. So what’s the plan now?”
Adesewa was getting tired of the conversation and feigned a yawn to wrap it up. “God will do it.”
“Amen. I see you’re tired. We would talk later dear. Love you. Your dad sends his love as well.”
“Love you both too.”
Adesewa couldn’t tell her mother Zainab was getting married in a matter of weeks. Her thoughts drifted off to Efe. It had been on her mind for a while now but she didn’t want to interfere. She had done so enough times and felt partly at fault for what had happened between them.
If only I had stayed away from the wedding none of this would be happening.
“Married men are off limits!” She said out-loud.
“Oh really? I think it depends on the context.”
Adesewa spun around to see her partner standing at her door.
“I didn’t know you were around. It’s wrong to eavesdrop on a conversation.”
He raised one of his bushy brows. “Talking to yourself doesn’t count as a conversation.” With one hand in his pocket and another holding a file, Kobina walked into her office and took a seat.
Adesewa remained standing. “How may I help you? It’s really a surprise to see you here. Thought you wouldn’t be around till next week.”
“I just happened to be in Nigeria and wanted to check on the company and see how it’s going.”
Just happened to be in Nigeria? Indeed. “It’s fine.”
“I can see that. Actually, I didn’t just happen to be in Nigeria.”
“I want to take you out for lunch. Would you be available?”
She didn’t know how to respond. He had come all the way from Ghana just to take her out for dinner? The first time she had met him she never saw him to be the romantic type. Neither did she see him as one who took his head out of business so long to be interested in a woman.
She took her seat and crossed her legs at her knees. “Kobina I’m flattered at your – er – kind gesture, but I have to remind you that what we have between us is strictly business and nothing to do with pleasure.”
He nodded and unbuttoned his expensi ve Navy suit. “Yes, I know that. But all work and no play makes Ade-shewa a dull girl and of no use to the company. It is my duty as your partner to make sure you’re fit and ready for this journey we’re embarking on.”
Adesewa looked at him incredulously and burst out in laughter.
“Okay, I have probably embarrassed myself now. I should take my leave.” He made to get up but she stopped him.
She waved her hand for him to stop. “I actually need a break. We can go out in the next one hour if that’s okay with you.”
He smiled. A dazzling smile that made her get a glimpse of his cream coloured, but perfect, dentition. “It’s okay by me.”
As she worked on clearing her desk of the work of the day she hoped she wasn’t making a mistake. It’s just a casual dinner Lord. He’s a business partner. Nothing can happen right?