It was like any other typical Saturday. First, she saw her mother’s Whatsapp messages warning her about taking cabs because all cab drivers were kidnappers. Immediately after that was another broadcast about avoiding buying a certain brand of rice because it was lazed with poison from China. She smiled and shook her head. Her one and only Iya Bose.
There was another message from Kiky inviting her to some cousin’s wedding. It was one of those cousins that she barely even had a relationship with. In a few hours, she heard her doorbell ring. She wanted to stay indoors for the whole day and think about all the drama that had happened in her life that past week. She couldn’t talk her mother about it. She already knew her mother would freak out and begin operation get-Tony-married. But wasn’t that what she wanted? She wanted to get married. She felt that she was ready. She knew that she was ready. But what she wasn’t sure of was whom she wanted to get married to.
Toba had reconciled with her but she had asked him to give her a little more time to think about the proposal. He told her that his offer was on the table for only nine days. She thought he was kidding but she realized he was serious when he blocked her number from reaching him. He said he would unblock her on the ninth day. Feyisetan had laughed her head off when she told her what happened.
“Hi!” She said, eyes wide open in surprise as she looked at the person at her door step. He was holding a pink box of cupcakes.
“Good morning to you too, Tony Lewis.” Dan said.
She smiled and let him in.
“Um…my living room is a bit of a mess. I wasn’t really expecting anyone today…” She said, looking around.
“So you want me to leave?” He looked at her, feigning being offended.
“Just teasing. We can clean up together.” He smiled. “And these are for you.” He handed the box of cupcakes to her. He remembered. The cupcakes were from her favorite dessert store at Fola Osibo.
“Thank you.” She smiled shyly, opening the box and biting off one of the cuties.
“So, what’s been going on with you?” Dan asked, stuffing the scattered throw pillows on the couch.
“What do you mean?” She said.
“You know what I mean…I thought we had something…between you and I…”
“Not just that. It seems like you are consciously avoiding me. Even for work. I don’t know if you are deliberately staying out of the meetings that involve me. But that aside, I had a little chat with Wright. He doesn’t seem as enthusiastic about you as he usually is. I just want to know if everything is okay.”
Tony rolled her eyes. She knew she hadn’t been at her best at work but that was because she had been going through a lot of physical, mental and emotional issues. She couldn’t explain any of it to Dan. She didn’t even know how to tell him that she didn’t think she had feelings for him like that. Perhaps what she felt was just an initial attraction.
“I have been going through some issues personally. That’s all. I am fine and I will be back on my A-game.” She said, crossing her legs and looking out the window.
He was silent, all the while staring at her.
“How is Toba?” He finally spoke.
She shot him a surprised look.
“He’s fine.” She said.
“Is he the reason for your change of attitude to everything?”
Tony heaved another sigh, shutting her eyes.
“Dan, I think you should leave.” She spoke sternly.
“I think you need to reconsider everything. Do you even know him well enough? I know this guy…Tony, you really need to…”
“Dan please leave my house right now!” She yelled.
“I am always available if you need to talk.” He said softly and headed for the door.
She wasn’t in control of her emotions. She knew alcohol wouldn’t solve her issues so getting drunk was not an option. She didn’t want to talk. She just wanted to make herself feel alright. She went into her bedroom, got dressed and grabbed her car keys.
When she got in the elevator that morning, she decided she was going to give her best at work. It was the start of a new week and she had made her decisions. She would ensure she met all her deadlines and finish up all the pending work on her desk. After work, she would go over to Toba’s place and accept his proposal. It only made logical sense. She had known him since she was a child and he was not a leech like Jimi. She would try to find a middle ground with him regarding the whole idea of quitting her job.
Yvonne welcomed her with a smile. She was wearing a rather ravishing taupe skirt suit, making her look like one of the professional staff of the firm. She had a new weave and her make up looked like it had been done by a professional MUA.
“You look so good.” Tony had to admit.
“Thank you very much.” She said and waved her left hand.
Tony gasped. It wasn’t just the glittering engagement ring on Yvonne’s finger. A car key was also dangling with glee.
“Yes ke!” Yvonne chuckled.
“Wow! You’re engaged! Did the car come too?”
“Hmm…he proposed on Sunday. He drove the car to my house and proposed to me. We’re thinking of holding the wedding in about three weeks though.” She said.
“Wait. Really? Oh wow! Why so fast? Don’t you need a lot of time to plan and all?”
She smiled, then she placed her hand over her abdomen.
“What? You don’t say!” Tony shrieked.
“Yea I am about six weeks. And I don’t want to have my bump showing in my dress because I’m certainly not doing any princess ball gown. All this shape and hips must show well well.” She laughed.
Tony hugged her for lack of words. For one, Yvonne’s boyfriend --- well, the richest one who Yvonne seemed the most interested in was a man in his late forties. He had a wife and a daughter but Yvonne claimed they were separated and only got married traditionally. The wife and kid lived in London. Tony knew she wasn’t one to give any advice, especially as she wasn’t exactly standing on holy grounds herself.
“I have to get to work now babe. We will talk during lunch.” Tony said and headed for her desk.
Sharon was looking into some law reports and doing some actual research to Tony’s surprise.
“Jesus is coming soon.” Tony laughed, teasing her.
Sharon laughed too.
“Good Morning Miss Lewis.” She said.
“How was your weekend dear? What’s going on? Did Mr. Wright ask you to help him research precedents or what?”
“No. It was Mr. Gbolahan that asked me to. He was here this morning and said he would need my written opinion when he gets back from the meeting he went for with Mr. Wright.” She said.
Tony gave her a puzzled look.
“Who is Gbolahan?” She asked. “And what meeting did they go for? There’s no meeting in my diary for today.”
“I don’t really know…he came in this morning and left not too long with Mr. Wright.”
Tony’s intercom rang. She raised a finger signaling for Sharon to hold on while she answered the phone. It was Rukewe from HR.
“I’ll be right back. HR wants to see me.” She said and headed towards the HR department.
Rukewe welcomed her with a rather weird smile. They were not friendly towards each other. Probably just cordial.
“You wanted to see me.” Tony said.
Rukewe nodded, at the same time flipping her curls.
“Please come with me.” She said as she walked out of the office and headed to the conference room. Tony walked behind, wondering what was going on.
Mr. Wright was seated alongside the heads of other departments. Oh true! It was Monday morning and all the HODs usually had a meeting with the boss. She wondered why she was being asked to join. Her heart skipped a beat. Perhaps it had finally happened! Her promotion!
“Have a seat, please.” Rukewe said to her. Tony nodded, smiling.
“Good morning.” Tony said to everyone and got replies from most of them.
“Good Morning Miss Lewis.” Mr. Wright started. Tony nodded, trying to contain her excitement.
“You are aware that Tinuke no longer works with us.”
Tony nodded again.
“It would be an oversight on management and even on me especially to say that your extreme hard work is unnoticed. You have been excellent in doing your job and even a number of our clients can testify to that. First, I’d like to let you know that the firm appreciates your efforts.” He continued.
“Thank you sir.” She smiled.
“That’s why we brought in help for you because we realize how much a burden work is becoming.”
She gasped. Now she had an assistant! Finally!
“This is Mr. Gbolahan Adisa. He is the new Lead Legal Counsel and Head of Legal Services of the firm. You will work closely with him and assist him put him through everything you know and learnt from Tinuke…”
She looked at the young man, Mr. Gbolahan, seated opposite her on the conference table. He smiled. He was bald and clean shaven, baring the bumps on the side of his face and his neck. The hair from his nostrils stuck out so visibly and he had very horrible finger nails.
“Mr Gbolahan used to work at a very top law firm where he was a senior associate. He’s very hands on in litigation and corporate practice. The board also decided that this is the best step to take.” Rukewe said and Mr. Wright nodded in agreement.
Tony feigned a smile.
Mr. Wright called the meeting to a close and dismissed every one. Tony dragged her feet back to her desk. She didn’t know what exactly to say. She was still trying to process the whole situation when she heard his voice.
“Hi Tony,” He started.
“It’s Miss Lewis.” She respectfully snorted.
He gave her a look.
“I’d like for you to join me in my office so we can go over files and pending matters together, Miss Lewis” He said.
“I have a couple of documents to edit and send this morning. As soon as I am through I will join you and help with that.” She said, typing ceaselessly on her keyboard.
“No document should leave this office without my approval first.” He said sternly and left.
Tony caught Sharon’s puzzled look. She responded with an even more puzzled look.
He had company. There were two other men in his living room when she walked in. His house boy had opened the door and let her in. Toba didn’t have the courtesy to get the door himself. Like that wasn’t bad enough, he told her in the presence of his company to wait in the ante room. Obviously he was not having a business meeting. They were drinking and watching the match. She would have left but she did not want to complicate things further with him. She tried to call Feyisetan but she wasn’t answering the calls.
The events of the past weekend replayed in her head as she waited in her little enclosure of humiliation. She remembered everything and every single detail. She didn’t know what drove her to do it but she felt she needed to so strongly with everything that was going on in her life. It was obvious that he missed her but on her own part, she wasn’t very sure of her feelings anymore. She didn’t know if she was actually just using him to feel better or if she really did want him. But one thing she knew was that she got what she had gone searching for.
“I missed you so much baby.” Jimi had said to her after the first round.
She smiled. She didn’t know what to say. She couldn’t tell him that she just needed to let some tension go.
“I thought you didn’t want me anymore. I couldn’t even cope without you. I tried but I couldn’t…”
She had kissed him to stop his words. She started to touch him again and they had another sexual romp.
At the end of everything, he asked her if they were getting back together. She decided to be truthful and told him that she just could not picture her future with him in it anymore.
She told Feyisetan everything that happened and her best friend’s advice was that she blocked Jimi’s number and forgot him for good. She did just that but she couldn’t block the whole event from her mind.
“Hey.” Toba’s voice jolted her back.
She looked at him. His friends said hi and left hurriedly, obviously laughing at her situation so she thought. She managed a small wave and a weak bye bye.
“Hey.” She looked up at her supposed boyfriend.
“What’s up?” He said, looking away.
She stood and hugged him. She looked at him and tried to kiss him.
“Tony why are you here?” He said.
She swallowed her pride, a very difficult morsel to swallow.
“I came to say I want you to take me back. I am sorry for everything that happened between us. I was in a bad place and I just needed a clear head, you know. It was all…all work.” She said.
“I’m glad that’s sorted now.” He said.
“I am also…accepting your proposal if you are still interested, that is.”
He looked at her and after a tug of war in his mind, pulled her closer and hugged her.
“I missed you.” He said.
“I missed you very much too.” She said.
“Will you spend the night?” He asked.
“Um…I don’t have my work clothes and all for tomorrow.” She said.
“I really don’t get why you stress so much about work. I just want you here, cooking for me and taking care of me and loving me.” He kissed her.
She was a little uncomfortable but she tried to conform.
“So you really don’t want me working at all?” She asked when she couldn’t conform anymore.
“No.” He said.
“But your mother works. Your sister works.” She said.
“Are you marrying my mother or my sister? Do you think it worked out well for them at the end? It’s not even up for discussion. I need my wife to be there all the time, round the clock, taking care of the home and the kids. I don’t want a nanny raising my children. Leave all the work to me.” He smirked.
“Speaking of work, the most annoying thing happened today.” She said, dropping her purse on the coffee table.
“I’ve been hoping for so long now that I would be promoted to Lead Legal Counsel. Toba I am so damn good at my job. I am very good. I’m not trying to brag but I am extremely good at it and even my boss and everyone at the office knows this. I have other companies poaching me for God's sake.”
“They brought in someone else, an external guy from a law firm. They made him my head. I thought I was being promoted until they told me that it seems work has been burdensome for me. That’s just because I called in sick that other time! I have given my time and energy to this stupid company. And just like that they bring someone else to be my head.”
“Oh that’s sad. I’m really sorry about that.” He said. He held her hands.
“It’s so annoying. I’m pushed to resign. I’m this close to resigning.”
“Well, baby, looking at it honestly…”
He called for his houseboy and asked him to bring in drinks for Tony.
“I don’t exactly blame your boss. I would do the same.” He continued.
“What do you mean?” She looked at him with utter disgust.
“There’s more stability in the company with a man. Why did you say the former Lead counsel left? She got pregnant, travelled to have her baby and that cost the company what? Some months of paying salary to a staff on maternity leave who is doing nothing but popping a baby at a Texas or Atlanta hospital. That’s just unnecessary cost, you know. That’s not to talk of all the abandoned work and…”
“I can’t believe you’re saying this.” She stood up, grabbed her purse and headed for the door.
Toba shook his head.
“Madam, if you leave please don’t ever come back. I won’t take this rudeness from a woman.”
She held her breath for a few seconds, trying to fight back the tears that were building in her eyes. She heard her phone vibrate. It was from an unknown contact number.
Just so you know, I have a clip of our little party over the weekend. Here’s an attachment for you to see. I know you better than you know yourself so I guess you should cooperate with me if you don’t want your lover to receive the full version.
She saw the thumbnail of the video.
It was from Jimi.
It was from Jimi.
“Oh God.” She shuddered.