‘So what can we offer you, Naomi? This is the first time you are truly visiting after you left years ago.’ Afolake turned to her with a solemn smile.
Naomi’s heart was heavy as she watched mother and son leave the house. She had once been in that position with an infant child, despite the fact that she had done nothing wrong to deserve the crude treatment from the same woman. She felt Patricia’s grief and sorrow as if it was her own.
‘I’m okay for now.’ Her smile was wooden and fake.
‘Come with me, Ife. Let me show you my old room when I was growing up.’ Olayemi’s boyish grin cut through her gloom like sunshine as he tugged at her hand and pulled her to her feet.
‘Please, Dad, show her the room and bring her back safely. I’m too old to have a little brother or sister.’ Joseph stated solemnly without looking up from the phone he was pressing.
Naomi’s jaw dropped in shock as she stared at her son while Olayemi roared with laughter. Afolake’s eyes widened in surprise before she was shaking with mirth too.
‘You are an idiot, Joseph. Let’s go before he made you change your mind.’ Olayemi was still laughing when they left the room but Joseph knew his mother would plan a come-back for him. He would be waiting. He grinned at his Grandma.
‘Gran, are you coming for Andrew’s wedding? It’s in two weeks time.’ He asked casually.
‘I won’t miss it for the world. He is such a good boy. That reminds me. You were telling me about fundraising for the acres of land you wanted to purchase for your farming. Can I still come in somewhere?’ Afolake gave him her complete attention.
‘Well, I won’t mind if you can invest personally in it. I will talk to my lawyer to get in touch with you and draw up a contract. You go through it and let me have your opinion.’ He glanced at her.
‘That is fine. My husband would have been very proud of you, son.’ She nodded her approval.
‘Opemi, I told you I want to invest too. Is it because I am not as rich as Grandma?’ Titi asked angrily.
‘Damn it, Titi. Go and invest your money elsewhere. I can give you my broker’s number. This is not a family business. It belongs to me and Andrew. Gran is an experienced businesswoman whose experience I need right now. You are not.’ He glared at her.
‘So? I trust you. I want to do business with you. Is something wrong with that?’ Titilola glared back.
‘Fine. Go and talk to our lawyer.’ Joseph stood up and stalked out of the room.
‘I am talking to you. You had better answer me now before I do something you won’t believe.’ Titilola followed him with a stubborn jut of her lips.
Afolake grinned with amusement as she reached for her phone and dialed her lawyer’s number.
‘I will let him know you checked on him when he gets back, Becky. I appreciate your time.’ Naomi was saying as she walked the young woman to the door.
‘I am only doing my job. I am still not happy with the fact that he has resumed fully at work. He still has lots of healing to do.’ She grumbled as she put on her flat sole shoes.
‘I know you are doing your job. Thank you all the same for the dedication.’ Naomi tucked her tongue in her cheek.
The door opened as she reached for the doorknob. Joseph walked in with a fair beautiful woman. Her arm was around his waist and they were both laughing. Naomi watched as Rebecca’s expression turned cold and unfriendly.
‘Good evening, Mr. Coker. I can see you are much better now.’ She nodded to the lady politely before turning to Joseph.
‘Hmmm, yes I am. How are you, Becky?’ He asked with a smile.
‘I am very well, thank you. I advised you to wait till next week before you resume fully at work but since it seems you are very much okay, my duty is fully done here.’ Her gaze drifted over him coolly before she reached for the doorknob again.
‘Thank you. I will drop you off.’ Joseph pushed his briefcase to Titilola and turned to follow her out of the sitting room.
‘Where are you going, darling? We just came in. The Doctor is already leaving anyway.’ Titilola purred in a loud voice as she clung to Joseph’s arms. Her beautiful pouty lips belied her laughing twinkling eyes.
‘Goodnight ma.’ Becky marched out of the house without a second glance.
‘Good night dear.’ Naomi choked back the laughter bubbling in her and answered with a straight face.
‘I will kill you, Titi. I swear.’ Joseph glared at her before he dashed out after her.
‘Darling, please can I come along?’ Titilola asked in a loud petulant voice which had Joseph hissing and swearing loudly.
The door closed with a resounding thud.
‘You are a bad child, Titi. What the hell are you doing that for?’ Naomi chided her laughingly.
‘That is his Becky right?’ Titi turned to confirm.
‘You know she is the one before you start your super acting skills.’ Naomi glared at her. The young girl collapsed into a helpless giggle until she had no choice than to join her.
‘It is so obvious. She needs someone to make her come to her senses. She knew he is alright and keeps coming here under the pretense of caring for him. The green monster is written all over her face. I could almost hear her teeth grinding together.’ Titilola collapsed into another peal of laughter.
‘You are quite right, naughty child that you are.’ Naomi wiped at the tears coursing down her face.
‘How was your day, mama mi?’ Titilola asked after a while.
‘It was busy. My orders came in today and I have a hell of a time clearing it from the port. This country is so messed up.’ Naomi complained good-naturedly.
They were still gisting when Joseph barged in, frustrated and furious.
‘I lost her. She jumped into a taxi and ran away. I am sure she is not coming back here. The car key was with you. What the hell was that Broadway acts for?’ He glared down at her.
‘What act are you talking about, Opemi? ‘Titilola batted her eyelids innocently.
‘You know what I am talking about. I can strangle you, Titi. I swear.’ He hit his knuckled into his palm to keep from hitting her. She stopped laughing and gave him a steady look.
‘Do you really want her or you wanted what you used to have? You have not made any attempt to seek her out unless she comes here. If you truly want her, what is the like of Elizabeth and Barbara still doing in your life?’ She asked quietly. Joseph stared at her in shock as he felt the anger draining out of him. ‘What makes you different from her husband, Opemi?’ She held his gaze directly.
‘Good questions, Titi.’ Naomi reached over and placed a kiss on her forehead, on both cheeks and her lips. ‘I love you, dear.’ She smiled at the young girl.
‘I love you too, mama mi.’ Tears filled Titilola’s eyes but she was smiling.
‘I know her house address when you are ready to do the needful.’ Naomi told him with a casual glance as she headed to the kitchen.
‘Get out of my sight, Titi.’ Joseph hissed at her as he stormed to his room and slammed the door closed.
Titilola went to join Naomi in the kitchen.
‘How is work? Are you enjoying working in your father’s company?’ She asked quietly.
‘I don’t think so. I think I prefer to assist with your store expansion. I feel lost in the Coker Empire. No matter what I do, they will always see as Daddy’s spoilt little girl. My hard work will never be appreciated. Please let me come and work with you. I promise I won’t be a pain in your butt.’ She pleaded solemnly.
‘Titi, you know I have no issue with you working with me. In fact, I will appreciate it a lot. We will draw up something formal between us. In the meantime, discuss it with your father and your mother when next you visit her.’ Naomi glanced at her.
‘Must I speak to my mother before you will allow me to work for you?’ She asked skeptically. Naomi only raised an eyebrow at the question. ‘Okay, Mama mi. I will do so if you insist.’ She answered her own question with a rueful smile.
‘How is your therapy session coming along?’ Naomi asked after a moment.
‘It is okay. The guy is nice and knows his job, I think. I still find nothing attractive about the opposite sex though.’ She shrugged her shoulder in indifference.
‘It is a gradual process. You will be okay.’ Naomi drew her into her embrace and hugged her tightly.
‘Thank you.’ Her voice was husky with tears.
‘Mummy, someone is at the door.’ Michael was shouting at the top of his voice as he ran towards the door.
‘Peep through the keyhole to see who is at the door before opening the door.’ Rebecca’s voice ended in a groan of frustration as he had turned the key and yanked the door open.
‘Hello.’ Joseph grinned at the little boy standing in the doorway, eyeing him with open curiosity.
‘Hi. Are you Aunty Lizzy’s friend?’ He asked curiously as he looked up at him.
‘Well, you can say that. I’m Joseph Coker. May I meet you?’ He crouched down to his level.
‘My name is Michael. I’m 4 years old. How old are you?’ He gave him a gaped teeth smile.
‘Michael, that is rude. You don’t ask an adult how old is he or her. Good morning, young man.’ Ruth gave him a polite smile as she approached them.
‘Good morning ma.’ He rose to his full length and curtseyed to the elderly woman.
‘His name is Joseph Coker and he is Aunt Lizzy’s friend.’ Michael announced with a grin. Ruth looked closer with her fading eyesight and a slow smile spread on her face.
‘You look good, Joseph. How have you been?’ Ruth clasped him in a maternal hug.
‘I’m fine. How are you ma’am?’ He smiled at her.
‘Come in.’ she drew him in and closed the door. ‘Rebecca, guess who is here?’ She announced as she led them to the sitting room.
‘I know.’ Rebecca’s voice was cold and hostile as she came to stand on the edge of the room. ‘Good morning Mr. Coker. To whom do we owe the honor of this visit?’ She flashed him a fake smile as she crossed her arms over her chest.
‘He is Aunt Lizzy’s friend.’ Michael announced again with a smile.
‘How did you reach that conclusion, dear?’ Rebecca gave her son a curious look.
‘Well, he said so when I asked. Plus it is her friends that usually visit. You don’t have any friend.’ He stated with absolute confidence.
‘You are very smart, Michael. I like you.’ Joseph nodded solemnly to him.
‘You have not answered my question, Mr. Coker.’ She snapped angrily.
‘Can we take this somewhere private?’ He snapped back as he felt his anger rising.
‘Michael, come with me. We need to go and tidy up my room.’ Ruth held Michael’s hand firmly as she left the room. The little boy looked from Joseph to Rebecca with a confused look.
‘Why are they fighting, Gran? I thought he is Aunt Lizzy’s friend.’ They could hear Michael asked with obvious confusion.
‘What do you know, sweet child? Adult business is a complicated one. You will know the meaning one day.’ Ruth chuckled softly before closing the door.
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