Alex stepped on the brake, put the gear in park and turned off the ignition, then stormed into the house. She was getting frustrated with Mr. Yusuf’s pressure. She would have quit her job if she was on good terms with her mother, but the latter had refused to mend fences with her. She would have gone on her knees and begged but she wanted to prove she could make something for herself out of life without her mother’s help. Lisa had given her everything she owned in life and her job at the bank was the only thing she had achieved based on her own merit. Maybe her mother thought she wouldn’t survive without her help.
Yusuf had threatened that the bank was going to lay off inefficient staff and he wouldn’t fail to send her name in that list if she didn’t meet up her target. Where was she supposed to get a N20, 000,000. 00 account from?
Nora had been sleeping when Alex returned home. She joined Alex in the living room shortly after.
“Hey, Alex. Are you okay? Didn’t know you were back.” Nora said, yawning and stretching her arms.
Alex wiped her face which was now soiled from tears, and looked away.
“What happened?!” Nora rushed to Alex’s side. “Is your mom alright?”
“I’m on the verge of losing my job if I don’t get that N20m. Please Nora, help me talk to someone. Your MD or any of his friends, please I’m begging you.”
“Why don’t you go meet your mom or one of your rich relatives?” She said sarcastically.
“Nora, just help me, okay. I’m getting desperate.”
PHCN restored the interrupted electricity, and the standing fan and stabilizer came to life.
“Bankole has been complaining of some financial problems lately so I can’t ask him because that would affect my pocket in the long run.” She said. Alex sighed this time. She couldn’t argue because she lived under Nora’s roof provided by Bankole.
“But he has a friend sha…I can ask him to talk to the man on your behalf and pity your condition. He's a good man. ”
Alex jumped from the couch and hugged her.
“Thank you so much!”
Alex sprayed some of the Elizabeth Arden Fifth Avenue perfume that Phillip had given her some time ago, and then, applied one more layer of powder, before joining Nora in the living room. Nora was dressed already. It was Friday and they were going to the Ikoyi club where Bankole and his friend would be.
“Are you sure he’s a nice man and won’t bug me for sex or stuff like that?” Alex asked for the umpteenth time, as Nora ascended the Lekki Bridge. Nora stretched out her hand, gave the officer the toll fare, and drove off.
“Alex, please don’t piss me off. When you meet the man, you will know. I have told you there’s nothing to worry about.”
Nora hissed and cursed in her mind.
Bankole Saheed’s usual staff brought Nora and Alex into the club. Nora hugged him, and then whispered something into his ear. Alex stood, staring at them, clutching her purse.
“Good evening sir,” She said.
“My dear, how are you. You look so pretty!” Bankole said, running his eyes over her body from head to toe. Nora nudged him and he laughed.
In a few minutes, the good man joined their table, and exchanged pleasantries with Bankole Saheed. He was wearing a mustard Lacoste polo shirt and cream chinos, and his gold necklace with the dollar pendant shone bright like the diamond it wasn’t. His belly protruded such that the polo shirt was sloppy.
Alex greeted the man, in the Yoruba courtesy by bending her knees a little. She wasn’t sure of his tribe but she assumed Yoruba since he was fluent with it, and that was the language he spoke with Bankole Saheed.
“Come and sit beside me, fine girl.” The man said.
Alex looked at Nora, who was already sipping from Bankole’s beer, as she went to sit beside the man.
“What do you want to drink?” He asked.
“Malt is fine, Sir.” She smiled; trying to focus on the reason she had come to see the man.
“No, no. Are you saying you don’t take alcohol?” The don’t sounded like dunt and the alcohol sounded more like alkuhul. Then, she guessed he was Ibo, from the accent. She liked Ibo people who could speak Yoruba. She couldn’t even speak Ibo well, let alone two native languages.
Her phone beeped. It was a text from Nora saying she should ask for Smirnoff. She sighed.
“Okay, I’ll do Smirnoff, sir.” She smiled. She caught Nora’s glance of approval.
The man touched Alex’s laps and she flared up.
“Nora, I’m leaving.” She hissed and stormed out. Nora ran after her.
“Are you out of your mind? Do you know how much you are throwing away by walking out on that man? Ejike Okeke!” Nora yelled at Alex.
Alex was surprised.
“Ejike?” She yelled too.
She actually had never seen Aunty Joan’s husband before. She only heard about him and knew he was very wealthy…and randy.
“That’s Aunty Joan’s husband. I can’t do this to her. She already told me he can’t help.”
“Ehn, let Aunty Joan give you the N20m and save your job. It’s either this man, or you go and beg your mom, or you get out of my house. I’m sick of your holier than thou attitude. You think I don’t know that you think I’m a whore for what I do, right? You know what, Alex, I want you gone tonight.”
Alex was shocked. Nora had never spoken to her like this. She wanted to walk out and leave but she had nowhere to go. She didn’t want to go back to her mother and beg. Besides, Aunty Joan had lied to her, and hadn’t wanted to help, she thought.
“Nora…” Alex shouted.
Nora turned back and eyeballed her.
“Please, I’m sorry. I’m just scared. What if he wants to sleep with me?”
Nora burst out laughing.
“Then you shall sleep the sleep with him. It’s not like it’s a crime, girl. You need to grow up from this baby butty box you’re in. This is the real world, not school days.”
“He’s my mom’s friend’s husband, Nora…I’m scared. What if she finds out? What if they tell my mom?”
“The link is long. Your mom's friend's husband. He's not your relative. You’ll be smart about it. Your N20m is in there. It’s your choice to make.”
“But I haven’t…I…I’m a virgin.”
Nora looked at Alex. That was one thing she was really jealous about; that Alex was a virgin, and Nora had lost hers since secondary school days at the boarding house with the Food prefect for extra wraps of Fufu at School lunch.
“There is a time for everything.” Nora smiled.
“What if I get pregnant? What if …”
Nora shook her head.
“Let me go in and beg Ejike for you. I know you must have embarrassed him there.”
Anthony was one of the workers in the club. Joan had taken a personal liking to him, and usually gave him tips every other weekend. He watched from the bar, as Nora sat beside Ejike and said some things to him, then Ejike nodded, and hugged Nora.
“Madam,” He called Joan’s phone. Joan was already dozing when his call came through.
“Anthony, how are things? I’m so tired today…”
“Oga Ejike is here, and he’s with that Nora girl you said you know.” Anthony said.
Joan sat upright.
“Oh my God! I’m tired of this man’s adultery. So Nora is sleeping with my husband now eh?”
After she had cut Anthony’s call, she scrolled through her phone, and dialed another contact.
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