Nora was surprised to see Alex by her gate at that time. The gate man opened up and Alex drove into the compound.
“I’m not going back to that house ever!” Alex cried, as she walked into the house.
“What happened now? “ Nora asked, walking behind her.
“It’s my mom. She’s getting on my last nerve.”
“Rich people problem. So your mother annoyed you and you packed out of the house?”
Alex shook her head angrily.
“She didn’t just annoy me. She insulted me! She made reference to my dad. You know I feel about that. And she slapped me! See my face.”
Nora laughed, and sat on the couch beside her.
“So you want to live here with me?”
“Where else should I go to? I broke up with Phillip.”
Nora looked away. She really liked Phillip. She had been thinking about him since the day she tried to seduce him. Alex coming to live in her house with her would destroy whatever she had planned.
Alex’s phone rang. It was Joan Okeke.
“Where are you, Alex?” The woman said.
“Aunty Joan, good evening. My mom called you to report me abi?”
“Will you shut up there?! What stunt do you think you just pulled, walking out on your mother?”
“She hit me, and she insulted me.”
“And so what?”
“You know what, Aunty, I don’t want to talk about this right now. Good night.” She hissed and cut the call. Nora stared at her eyes wide. When did Alex become that rude?
“That was rude, you know?” Nora said.
Alex walked into the kitchen and got herself a glass of water.
Nora’s phone rang this time. It was Lisa Udeh. She asked to know if Alex was there and wanted to speak with her. Alex waved her hand, gesticulating that she wasn’t interested in talking to her.
Two days, three days, a week, and Alex had not gone back home. Lisa Udeh had been worried sick, but Joan had told her to stop calling. At least they knew she was with Nora.
Bankole Saheed wanted to pay Nora a surprise visit. He was back in Lagos, after his visit to his hometown, and asked Taju to bring him down to Sango-Tedo. He knocked the door, and Nora ran to get it. Alex was taking a nap in the bedroom.
“You’re back? I had no idea!” She said, reducing her voice, as she saw him.
“I wanted to surprise you. How have you been? Did you miss me?” Bankole said, laughing and hugging her.
Taju carried the kegs of vegetable oil and a sack of rice into Nora’s kitchen.
“Thank you, Taju.” Nora smiled at the driver.
Bankole tapped his laps, for Nora to sit on them.
“I hope you have talked to your wife and her sister now o. I was so embarrassed that day, ehn.” Nora whined.
“I gave her a good beating. She will never approach you again, don’t worry.” He assured her.
“Em…Banky baby, I have a house guest. My best friend, Alex. She came to visit me for a while so she’s in. I hope you don’t mind…”
Bankole frowned, but his eye brows went up, as he saw the house guest walk into the living room.
Alex was a beauty, with or without make up. Nora caught him staring at Alex, and stood up from his legs. She saw Alex’s surprised look. Nora had not told Alex about her personal runs. In fact Alex thought Nora’s family had travelled to the village or something because she had not seen them all week.
“Good afternoon sir…” Alex said. She wasn’t sure how to address the man. She had seen Nora sitting on his legs.
“How are you my dear?” Bankole said.
Nora knew that tone. That was the tone he had used with her the day Taju had brought her to him by his car.
“I’m fine sir…”
Bankole kissed her cheek and gave her a wad of cash, then counted ten thousand Naira and handed it to Alex, then left the house.
“Who is that man?” Alex said, the minute Nora walked into the house after seeing Bankole off. "Banky baby? Really?"
Nora paused for a bit, then turned to face Alex.
“Okay, look,” She started. “He is my boyfriend.”
“What? That man? He’s your dad’s mate …”
“Exactly why I didn’t want to tell you. Please don’t judge me o, abeg. I know what I went through before I could secure my job, or even get this house and my car. Life has handed me nothing but poverty.”
Alex looked at her friend, and she had absolutely no idea what to say.
“So, fine. There it is. Cat’s out of the bag.” Nora smiled, trying to hold back her tears.
Alex tried to hug her but Nora walked away.
Mr Yusuf, the Business Manager, and Alex’s boss, had been on her neck for some time, regarding the loan accounts he wanted her to bring into the bank. She had met a part of her target, but had not been able to accomplish others. She knew there was pressure on her boss too from the Business Development Manager, who also had to report to his own boss.
She strongly began to regret why she had not accepted Joan Okeke’s job offer and worked at the oil company. Truth was, she had considered the job, but when she saw that Nora was jobless, she had begged her mother to talk to Joan Okeke into getting Nora the job. When Nora wasn’t employed, she had felt bad about going back to take it. It would ruin their friendship.
She had no other choice but to talk to Joan Okeke into getting Uncle Ejike’s account.
By 7.30PM, she grabbed her bag, left the office, and drove down to Joan’s house. She knew she would be home already. As she sat in the living room, she heard Joan’s footsteps.
“Good evening Aunty,” Alex said.
“What are you doing here? Aren’t you going to hang up the phone on me this time?” Joan hissed.
Alex went on her knees.
“I’m so sorry. I was so angry that day I don’t know what came over me.” She pleaded.
Joan looked away, then told her to get up.
“Have you called your mother? I suppose you came here to ask me to help you plead with her.”
“She stopped calling me. She obviously isn’t interested in seeing my face.”
“I had no idea you were this stupid.” Joan roared. “Your mother doesn’t call you and you choose to ignore her?”
Alex sighed, then looked at Joan.
“I will go by the house today to beg her. But I came here to talk to you, please.”
“Concerning what?” Joan said.
“Please I want you to help me talk to Uncle Ejike. I need to open a loan account and he’s the only one I can think of. I have gone to everywhere I can think of but nothing is looking positive.”
Joan didn’t know what to say. How would she make Alex understand that her husband had an eye for beautiful young girls, and she did not trust that Alex was decent enough to be alone with her husband, especially now that she was living with Nora. She had seen Nora at Ikoyi club the other night with Bankole Saheed, her husband’s old friend, but she had not gone over to say hello to him. Even if Alex was decent, it was her husband she did not trust.
“I’m sorry dear. He already runs the company account with TG bank. I’m so sorry. You should have told me this earlier. I gave my word to my younger sister who works in that bank.”
Alex nodded her head, said her thanks, and left the house.
She stopped by the house at Chevy View, and honked for the gate man to let her in. He opened the smaller gate, came by her car, and bent to speak with her as she lowered her glass.
“Small Madam, welcome o. Good evening.” He said.
Alex smiled faintly.
“Open the gate let me go in, please.”
“No vex, small Madam. Big Madam say if you come, make I no allow you enter.”
Alex was shocked. She turned off the ignition and climbed out of her car then stormed into the house. Lisa Udeh saw her daughter, as she stormed into the living room.
“What do you want here, young woman?” Lisa said angrily.
“Mummy, how could you ask the gate man not to let me in?”
“What do you want here? Are you tired of Nora already? Or you can’t stand her aristo lifestyle anymore? I heard, you know.”
Alex stood akimbo.
“Nora has been through a lot…”
“Why are you here, Chiamaka?”
Alex knew her mother was upset, because she called her by her native name.
“I thought of you, and I realized it’s not right to leave you all by yourself in this house.”
Alex wanted to apologize, but she was too proud to say a word of apology.
“In that case, I am doing very well. Leave my house.”
“What? Are you throwing me out, Mummy?”
“I have spoilt you too much. Yes, I am throwing you out. This is not your father’s house. It is my house that I worked hard to build, and to shelter you.”
Alex grabbed her bag and walked out.
She sank into the couch in Nora’s living room, and unbuttoned her TM shirt. She still couldn’t believe her own mother had asked her to get out of the house. The headache she had been feeling from the day's stress just wouldn’t go away.
Nora listened to her, as she narrated how bad her day had gone.
“So now, my job is threatened. Nora, I need your help. Do you know anyone I can approach to help me get this account and secure my job?”
Nora heaved a sigh of relief. It felt good to have Alex at her mercy.
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