‘This man keeps getting on my nerves. He just doesn’t listen to simple reasoning.’ Titilola stormed into Naomi’s office and slumped unto the visitor’s sofa in exasperation.
Naomi looked up from the novel she was reading and grinned at her step-daughter.
‘I am assuming you are referring to Kingsley Wright, my capable manager?’ She teased lightly. Titilola scowled at her.
Kingsley Wright was a young man she used to know when she was selling provisions in a small shop at the new market. He worked as a driver/delivery guy for an upcoming detergent company. He was jovial and friendly and was able to persuade her to start ordering his company’s products which turned out to be of high quality. She eventually learned he was a graduate, an orphan with two younger siblings he was responsible for. He was also a part-time marketer for the same company. This allowed him to earn extra cash for all the products he was able to sell on his own.
He was sitting at the reception of Tuyil pharmaceuticals, waiting for the opportunity to see the Human Resource manager and submit his resume. Naomi was on her way out, having just concluded a meeting with the head of Sales and Marketing unit, Mr. Arowosaye when she saw him. She recognized him immediately.
‘Kings, what are you doing here?’ She smiled as she approached him.
‘Good afternoon ma’am. I came to submit my resume. My company downsized and I was affected.’ He curtseyed with a warm smile. ‘You look good.’ He added almost immediately. She laughed softly.
‘Thank you. Can you come with me now if you have the chance or you would rather come tomorrow?’ She held out her card to him.
‘I will come with you if I won’t be a bother. Thank you. God bless you.’ He prayed fervently as he hurried after her.
She needed a store manager when they met and she employed him without looking at his resume. She had never regretted her action.
‘So what is the issue this time around?’ Naomi asked with a smile.
‘I’m in charge of the ladies and children section. He won’t even give me a free reign. He kept insisting I’m not experienced enough to handle the unit on my own. How dare he?’ She glared at the door as if the man had just materialized.
‘Titi dear, you have to admit he is more experienced than you are. If you really want to know what this business is all about, you need humility and ability to control your emotions, no matter the situation.’ Naomi told her quietly.
‘Are you on his side, mama mi?’Titilola’s eye narrowed at her as she sat up in the chair. Naomi laughed softly.
‘Come here, girl.’ She patted the space beside her on the love seat. Titilola stood up and went to sit down beside her grudgingly. She put her arms around her shoulders companionably.
‘If you want to be respected and appreciated for your effort, you have to earn it by being submissive, humble and even-tempered. When you do, you will have the opportunity to see your ideas and dreams come to reality without anyone questioning you.’ Naomi looked down at her upturned face. Titilola sighed heavily and studied her fingers.
‘You are right, ma’am. I will try not to be a spoilt brat again.’ She smiled ruefully as she glanced up at the older woman.
‘It is okay, dear. You are still learning. It is glad I am that a man is alive that can ruffle your feather apart from Joseph.’ Naomi smiled at her.
‘He just gets on my nerves. Ruffle my feather ke? They never born that man oo.’ She scowled as she got to her feet and flounced out of her office.
Naomi laughed heartily as she picked up her novel and continued from where she stopped.
Rebecca was settling into her seat with her sleepy super-excited kid beside her. She had tucked their hand luggage unto the space allocated to them and made sure they were sitting not too far from the toilet in case her son needed to ease himself.
‘When is the plane taking off, mum?’ He asked excitedly, even as his voice was slurred with sleep.
‘We will be in the air any moment from now but I am sure you will be sleeping by then.’ Rebecca grinned into his sleepy eyes. She was still pinching herself to be sure she wasn’t dreaming. She promised to pin Roseline in a corner at the first opportunity and dragged every secret out of her.
True to her word, she had sent Ramsey’s address in the U.S.A and arranged her travel plans. She was traveling in a business class cabin with her son to Manchester. She hadn’t even flown in that cabin when her father was alive! An involuntary grin spread across her face.
‘I don’t want to fall asleep.’ He whined sleepily.
‘Sleep little one. The journey will be boring. When you wake up, we will be out of Nigeria.’ She grinned down at him and he grinned back.
‘I love you, mum’ He whispered as his eyes drifted closed.
‘I love you too, son.’ She bent to kiss his cheek.
‘Please kiss me goodnight too.’ A familiar voice teased from behind her. She stiffened slightly before she turned around and looked at the man standing beside her.
‘Joseph! What are you doing here?’ She screamed before she covered her mouth when a few head turned to give her a disapproving look.
The plane lurched slightly as it started taxing down the runaway and he lurched forward slightly, careening into her.
‘Damn, I almost missed the flight. This week has been overwhelming. I’m so glad to get away.’ He sighed as he held her away and spread his legs to balance himself. He stowed his hand luggage above them.
‘You are on vacation?’ She asked curiously as she took her seat. He took the seat beside her and sighed.
‘Yes. I am going to enjoy every moment of it.’ He vowed to himself. She laughed heartily.
They talked and laughed and were just dozing off when they had to disembark for the connecting flight. Michael slept throughout while Joseph carried him as they passed through immigration. Joseph put them in a taxi, paid the cab driver and sent them on their way. He took another taxi to his hotel room.
Michael woke up on their way to Roseline’s apartment and peered out through the window in curiosity.
‘It is very cold.’ He whispered into his mother’s ear.
‘Yes, it is. We are no longer in Nigeria.’ His mother smiled at him.
‘This is so cool. So we are going to see Aunt Roseline and her sister, Caitlin, right?’ He pressed his face to the window, trying to take in all the sight at once.
‘That is right. We are almost there.’ Rebecca brought out her cell phone and dialed a number.
‘I’m waiting outside the apartment.’ Roseline’s laughing voice cut through the phone.
The cab turned a corner and a blonde could be seen outside the tall blocks of the apartment, waving her hands up and down.
‘Ya friend‘s sure eager to see ya.’ The cabman’s amused voice reached her as he pulled up in front of the building, a few feet from the excited woman.
‘Yes, it has been a long time’ Rebecca’s English accent thickened but she was grinning widely. She threw the car door open and jumped out before the cabman could open it for her.
The two women flew into each other’s arms and hugged tightly, rocking from side to side.
‘I miss you.’ Roseline’s voice ached with unshed tears but she was smiling.
‘I miss you more, my rose.’ They disengaged and grinned foolishly at each other.
‘Com and take this little man out of the cold, young woman.’ The cabman loaded their luggage on the sidewalk.
‘This must be Michael. Hi love.’ Roseline scooped him up with a smile and followed the cabman into her apartment building while Rebecca followed behind with the hand luggage.
Joseph ran into Becky and Roseline in the shopping mall on his way from Coker office, London branch and got invited to the wedding formally. He was also invited to Alex’s bachelor eve party. The eve party had gone extremely well, full of fun and dirty trick and women and lots of drinks to go around.
He returned to his hotel room at dawn to prepare for the wedding reception and party. He took a short nap, showered and dressed up before he drove over to Roseline’s apartment in his rented car to see her before they moved to the church.
He mentioned his name to the security man on duty and was buzzed through to the apartment.
‘Hi, Uncle Joe.’ Michael left the dining table where he was taking his breakfast to hug him exuberantly.
‘How are you, cupcake?’ He lifted him up and dropped a kiss on his pouted lips.
‘I’m fine. That is Caitlin, Aunt Roseline’s sister.’ He scrambled down to pull the shy girl forward.
‘Hi.’ The little girl flashed him a shy smile.
‘Hello, beautiful. How are you this morning?’ He tugged playfully at her pigtail as he grinned down at her.
‘I am fine. How come you are fair in complexion? I thought Nigerian men are black.’ She peered at him from beneath her blond eyebrow.
‘Well, we are blacks but not all of us have a black complexion in the literary sense.’ He smiled at her, hoping she understood his answer.
‘Michael is fair too. He looks like you. Are you his father?’ She asked curiously, looking from one to the other. Joseph felt a curious pang in his chest as he looked down at the little boy.
‘No, he is not my daddy. My daddy ran away from us. I am glad he is gone because he makes my mum cry in the night.’ Michael shook his head vigorously in denial. Joseph’s eyes narrowed in anger.
‘He made your mummy cry?’ He asked in a casual voice. Michael nodded. Joseph swore beneath his voice. Caitlin stared at him in fascination, her young heart fluttering in her chest.
‘Are you going to protect Michael and Becky? I like both of them a lot.’ She looked up at him with adoring eyes.
‘I will try my best. Go and finish your breakfast. I want to see the bride before she leaves for church.’ He took their hands and led them back to the dining table.
‘She should be in her room with a couple of her friends, dressing up. We are waiting for Becky to come and dress us up for the church.’ Caitlin informed him as she sat down.
‘Thank you, beautiful. I will be right back.’ Joseph planted a kiss on her cheek and strolled away.
Caitlin blushed furiously as she raised her palms to her hot cheeks and Michael grinned at her.
Joseph moved towards the sound of muted voices but got confused as he stared down the corridor. He was standing, directly opposite a room while there was another one at the end of the corridor. Both doors were closed. He knocked gently on the first door, consistently before he eased the door open a crack. Becky came out of the bathroom, droplets of water running down her body and a towel around her middle. His mouth watered and his hormone started humming as he pushed the door open and stepped in.
‘Joseph, what are you doing here?’ Rebecca nearly jumped out of her skin when she spotted him by the door.
‘I came to drop Roseline’s gift before she leaves for the church.’ His gaze openly caressed her from her face to her bare legs. Her feet curled on the warm rug and she held on to her towel with a hand unconsciously.
‘She is dressing up in the other room. I need to do the same so I can get the kids ready for church. Where is the gift?’ She took an involuntary step backward, even as she held out her hand. He opened his blazers and brought out a box. It was a well-wrapped Cartier box of jewelry.
‘This is too much, Joseph.’ Rebecca knew without opening the box that it contained a set of jewelry.
‘Please open it and let me know if she is going to like it.’ He demanded anxiously as he closed the distance between them. She opened the wrap carefully and gasped at the set of diamond wrist-watch, earrings, and neck chain winking at her.
‘It is beautiful’ she breathed fervently as she stared down at it before she looked up at him. He was staring at her mouth. ‘She will love it. Thank you.’ She smiled at him. He heaved a visible sigh of relieve.
‘Thank God for that. You women are the most complicated creatures I ever come across.’ He grinned as he stepped closer and cupped her cheek.
‘You are not serious. Get away from me.’ She laughed lightly as she tried to move away. He took the box from her hand, snapped it close and threw it on the bed.
‘Let’s get this out of the way.’ His voice was husky as he kissed her fully on the lips. She stiffened briefly as she laid her hands on his chest to push him away. He rubbed his lips over hers, lightly till it softened beneath his.
She sighed inaudibly as she kissed him back. Her hands went around his neck and she pressed her body against his in total surrender. His tenuous hold on his control snapped as he kissed her greedily and hungrily, his hands all over her body.
He tugged at the towel and it slithered down her body. The awareness took rot in her mind and she tried to break the kiss.
He swept her up and laid her on the bed.
‘Becky, I miss you. You are beautiful.’ He groaned as he licked her earlobe, the tip of his finger carving a map over her neck, throat and the curve of her breast. Her nipples tightened and she moaned involuntarily.
‘Becky, Are you ready?’ There was a sharp knock on the door as Roseline’s voice penetrated the fog of passion between them.
They both groaned collectively and went very still. Joseph buried his face in the curve of her throat and tried to still his pounding heartbeat.
‘I will be out in a moment.’ Becky answered but her voice was husky and she coughed to clear it.
‘Please bring my box of veil when you are coming.’ Roseline’s voice receded as she walked away.
‘I need to get dressed for church.’ She murmured quietly, He stared down at her face for several seconds before giving himself a mental shake.
‘Where will Caitlin stay when the couple leaves for honeymoon?’ He asked quietly. She frowned in confusion.
‘I don’t know. We were discussing it the other time. Roseline is her only relative. Her father’s family doesn’t care about her existence. I think they are thinking of canceling out the honeymoon plan if they can’t think of anywhere for her to stay while they are away.’ Her voice was sad as she looked away.
‘You don’t want to take her with you? I am sure the honeymoon can’t be more than two weeks.’ He frowned at her. She sighed sadly.
‘I want to take her with me. I wish to but I can’t afford it.’ She glared briefly at him. He was silent for a while.
‘I don’t know how fast her visa can be arranged. She can stay with you while I handle the bill. She can’t be that much of a liability, right?’ He teased lightly.
‘Are you sure?’ Hope flared in her eyes.
‘Get dressed. The bride is waiting.’ He grinned as he lifted himself up, picked up the gift and walked out without another word.
Rebecca exhaled slowly as she sat up in bed and reached slowly for her towel that was still on the rug. Her mind acknowledged the fact that they had nearly made love and her body craved for it desperately. She sighed longingly and started preparing for church.
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