She was sorting out the hotel pamphlets and hospitality magazines on the front desk when she heard the calculated echoes of the high heels against the marble floor. She raised her gaze to look at the coming customer, with a default smile forming on her face.
She recognized this face. It was a face she was very familiar with. It was her husband's (ex-husband's) personal assistant. She was wearing a body hugging ivory dress and in her hand was a green purse. She wasn't familiar with designers but she knew it was Hermes.
"Good evening, welcome to Sweet Palace Hotel." Theresa's colleague said, when no words had proceeded from Theresa's open mouth.
Dehinde's P.a smiled, without taking her eyes off Theresa. She was also lost for words too.
"Please give a minute to call the customer so I can inform him of your arrival." Theresa's colleague said. The P.a nodded, trying to avoid Theresa's eyes.
"Hello sir... Yes sir... She is around sir...alright I will send her upstairs now. Have a nice time sir." Theresa's colleague said as she spoke with the customer in Suite 25. It was the Platinum suite at the top floor for elite customers.
"You can go upstairs now Ma." She smiled.
The P.a nodded then she looked at Theresa.
"Hello Theresa." She smiled sarcastically, and then she catwalked out of the reception into the hallway.
Theresa's colleague waited for the P.a to leave the vicinity totally before she poked Theresa.
"You sabi am?" She asked, poking further.
Theresa didn't want to discuss her private life with her. She hadn't told anyone anything about herself. Even her own family. She looked at her colleague with hidden disgust. The girl was dying to get the information so she could share with other staff.
"No. Why?" Theresa said, as she went back to sorting the pamphlets and magazines.
She was trying not to think about what just happened. What did his P.a come to do? Which customer was in Suite 25? She hadn't lodged anyone there. She wanted to check the records but she called herself back to order. She wasn't going to let immature thoughts control her actions; immature thoughts and weird imaginations that it was her ex-husband that was lodged in Suite 25. She had never trusted his personal assistant, and that translated to dislike, which was a mutual feeling between both women.
Dehinde had always talked about how smart his personal assistant was. She had studied Law but had decided to work as an executive personal assistant. Being a P.a seemed the perfect job for her because she was perfect at what she did. Even Jide Roland his cousin had tried to poach her once or twice, but she was extremely loyal. Each time Dehinde commended her loyalty, Theresa couldn't help but get jealous and flinch at his comment.
Now, seeing her, she flinched again. With the way she had greeted her, she knew that the lady knew all the details about her divorce from Dehinde.
"Well, she called your name." Theresa's colleague continued. It seemed she hadn't had enough and wanted to dig up more information from Theresa.
"Well, I have a name tag." Theresa smiled.
The colleague smiled too and looked away, grabbing the message and listening between the lines.
The urge to check the customer at Suite 25 was still chief on her mind. She missed Jennifer. She would have called her best friend right away and Jennifer would have told her to delete the thought. Well, Jennifer was no longer in Nigeria. She was now married and gone with her husband in Germany where they were expecting. Theresa had to admit that she had been a little jealous. But she knew she had also had her moment of shine...and that moment, Jennifer had still been a waitress at Balorama restaurant, hoping and waiting for a rich-husband miracle. Now her time had come. She only wished that the miracle wouldn't translate to a disaster like had happened to her in her own marriage.
The hotel manager walked into the reception. Theresa rolled her eyes. The manager had been trying to hit on her for a while now. And because she wasn't co-operating, he had started to use his boss powers to manipulate and frustrate her.
"Theresa, take some towels to the customer at Suite 19 and 25." The manager said, avoiding her eyes. He had been avoiding her eyes ever since she had insulted him and put him in his place.
"Why me? There are staff for that." Theresa said, defensive.
"Because the other staff are busy. Theresa I have been watching you...you are getting wings and..." He started.
"Okay okay. I've heard." She cut him short and walked out of the reception.
She held the soft towels with the Sweet Palace logo printed on them in gold embroidery. It was after she had delivered the towel in Suite 19 and was approaching Suite 25 that she realized Dehinde's p.a had actually joined the customer in Suite 25.
She wanted to turn back, but her feet wouldn't let her. She knocked the door and then followed the knock with the usual "Room service." The customer asked her to come in. It was a male voice. She already knew it was Dehinde. She already knew it was her ex-husband. As the door creaked open, she shut her eyes. But then she opened them so she wouldn't look foolish.
"Theresa... Um..." The P.a said. She was wearing just a light dressing gown.
Theresa was trying to hide her anger. Maybe the P.a had even specifically requested that Theresa be sent upstairs so she could rub it in that she was sleeping with her husband (ex).
"Dehinde is in here, isn't he?" Theresa said. Her eyes were on the suit jacket and the Balorama restaurant souveneir diary on the bedside table.
The P.a didn't say a word. She was trying to gain composure.
Then he walked out of the bathroom. He was wearing just his boxer shorts.
"Oh my God!" Theresa screamed.
She was looking at Mr. Roland.
Mr. Jide Roland.
It was friday and she was done with lectures for the day. She had to squeeze out time to be able to maintain a balance between her job and her education. She was schooling full-time. Part-time would demand extra years from her and she wanted to get her degree over with as soon as possible. She had delayed long enough.
It was her day off at the hotel so she decided to rush off to the bank to make a deposit in her father's account before it struck 4pm. She looked at her wrist watch. She had just five minutes to make it to the bank. This was one of those times she missed being married to Dehinde Roland. The days when she could just call the branch manager and he would order the security men to let her in.
She got to the bank in time though. However, they had shut their doors. It was 4pm on the dot, yet they refused to open. She hissed, stamping her foot on the floor like a spoilt child.
"Theresa?" She heard someone call her name. She turned around to see who it was. It was probably one of her course mates.
She recognized him. It was that man that had sat at her table in the food canteen during her registration. But she had forgotten his name. She hated this...forgetting peoples' names. Especially people who knew her name.
"Oh! Wow! Long time! How have you been?" She said, smiling and hugging him. She hoped the hug would make him feel some sense of familiarity.
He smiled, although surprised at the sudden hug. He guessed she didn't remember his name and she was trying to cover up for it with the hug.
"I'm good. How are you?" He asked.
"I'm alright. Just trying to make a deposit in the bank and now they are closed." She hissed.
"Oh. Don't you have online banking?"
She rolled her eyes.
"I prefer doing things the normal traditional way, please." She laughed.
"The ATM is free. You can make a transfer via ATM." He said.
She grumbled a little then she asked him to help her as they walked to the ATM. There was no queue thankfully.
"Thanks a lot. I'll still have to come back to deposit the cash with me in my account though." She said.
"Okay. The time is coming when the ATM will accept cash deposits. It actually exists already." Tony said.
"No. I don't want to be the scape goat." She laughed. "What if something goes wrong and I can't get my cash back?"
"So where are you headed?" He asked her as they walked out of the banking area.
She looked at her wrist watch again.
"Well, i'm going home. I stay at Jakande estate towards Ajah." She said.
"Oh that's fine. I'm visiting my sister at Abraham Adesanya so we can go together." He said.
She didn't know what to say. She didn't have a car and she hadn't planned on taking a cab. She had actually planned on taking a bike all the way. It was always faster for her.
Before she could speak, a black SUV pulled beside them. Then Tony opened the door for Theresa to get in. After she did, he did, climbing in from the other door.
Theresa was still surprised in the midst of their discussions. He didn't look one bit like the owner of the vehicle. He asked her which course she decided to settle for. She told him Political Science. He asked her how she had been finding classes and her long-term plans. Then they started to talk about other things. She felt at ease talking with him. She didn't feel that pressure to please him or impress him like she always felt with Dehinde.
Maybe she had judged him wrongly. Maybe he wasn't cheating with his P.a afterall. It had been his cousin, Jide all along.
"We are at Jakande." Tony jolted her back from her thoughts.
She smiled. She wanted to come down and take a bike to her flat but Tony insisted on dropping her home. She was embarrased. Her flat was nothing to not be embarrassed about.
"I have to stop at the market first to buy something." She lied.
"Okay then. Let me have your contact." He said.
She smiled and called out her digits then he gave her a missed call.
"Let me see what you saved my number as." He leaned beside her immediately, before she could hide the phone. He knew she didn't remember his name.
He laughed looking at it.
Sociology rich man.
That's what she had saved his contact as.
"My name is Tony. Anthony." He said, laughing.
"My name is Tony. Anthony." He said for the third time over dinner. Theresa laughed, shaking her head.
"I get the message! Gosh!" She giggled.
"I mean, you should have just toldme you didn't remember my name. My first degree was in human psychology, you know. I can read people." He said.
She sipped her glass of orange juice, glancing at him.
"So tell me about you. This is the fifth time we are hanging out together and I don't really know much about you." Tony said.
Theresa shrugged. She had to admit that she had let him do all the talking. They had been seeing eachother for a few weeks now but she wasn't putting a label to it. She just saw him as a good friend. Someone she could spend time with. Someone who wouldn't make her think of her past. Maybe a replacement for Jennifer.
He worked with a consulting firm. He owned the firm actually, as she had discovered later on. He had a masters degree in Human resources already but he felt he wasn't done so he thought to bag another in Human sociology. Theresa wondered maybe it was just the human title in front of his degrees, that was his motivation.
"Well, there's not much. I have to tell you that I am not as wealthy or classy or as educated as you. Well, maybe I am more classy, thinking of it." She laughed.
Tony shook his head. She always made him laugh.
"What do you mean, Madam?"
She shrugged again.
"Well, I'm your friend, and coming from someone like me, this is bad. Your dress sense is not exactly..."
"Hmmm...I don't look like I'm worth you mean?"
"If you put it that way..." She said shyly.
"Okay. Your new job is to be my personal stylist."
"What? Trust me I'm the wrong gal for the job." She said.
"I see." He said, shaking his head again for the umpteenth time and wondering what to do with this woman he was growing fond of with each passing day.
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