“That gala girl is sure a pretty one. Isn’t she cute, mum?” Lekan turned to his mother with a grin.
Yetunde looked out through the window to see the gala-girl selling her snacks to the occupant of a car. They were on their way home from her shop and were held up in traffic.
“She is beautiful indeed. I thought Funmi is the prettiest girl to you right now or that has changed already?” she teased as she glanced at him.
Funmi was Ademola Badmus’s ten-year-old daughter. She attended the same school with Lekan. She was a result of an affair that had almost ended in marriage but her mother died in a fatal motor accident which nearly killed all of them a week to the wedding. After that incident, Ademola had washed his hands off the institution called marriage until he met Yetunde two years ago and the feelings he thought were dead re-surfaced. Fortunately for him, Funmi had taken an instant liking to Yetunde to his surprise because she always resent the presence of his previous girlfriends in his life and she also liked Lekan immensely.
It had been love at first sight for both kids and they had taken to each other as if they were blood relative. Unfortunately, Lekan disliked Funmi’s father openly and intensely but Ademola was damned if it would be the little boy that will keep him away from the only woman that meant something to him after his first love.
“Funmi is a very pretty girl but I think that gala girl is prettier than she is, don’t you think so, mum?”He insisted. She sighed inwardly, wondering at the kind of man who actually fathered him because it was obvious he was going to like women a lot.
“How come you like Funmi so much and you dislike her father? Don’t you know they are the same blood?” She broached the subject that had always created an issue between them.
“I just don’t like him.” His voice turned sulky as he turned away.
“You don’t have a very good reason for not liking him, Lekan. I may decide to marry him and make him your new daddy. Won’t you like to have a daddy like your mates in school?”
“I don’t want or need a daddy. I’m perfectly okay with you.” He brought out his new game from his bag and concentrated fiercely on it. Yetunde sighed heavily and let the subject drop.
The second semester ended in school. Fatihat becomes a regular visitor to the Abeebs‘s company. Between herself, Tunde and his personal assistant, they worked on their goals to bring the company back to his feet.
Surprisingly, she got a lot of satisfaction from working in the office and felt worthwhile for the first time in her life. She also found out she was right about Tunde Abeeb once again. His father’s company was his first love which was followed by his sweetheart, Adenike and she had succeeded in hitting both squarely in the middle.
Being occupied in the office reduced the rate at which she went on an outing and to parties greatly. She has to turn down several party invites. She was the new occupant of the Chief Executive Officer’s Office and had it re-furnished and decorated to her taste.
Three months after she occupied the new office, she received the least expected visitor in her office. Her secretary and personal assistance, Lara was on Lunch break and she was trying to finish a thriller novel in her office before leaving for the day when she heard a knock on her door.
“Please come in” Fatihat dropped her feet on the floor and looked towards the door while the half-smoked cigar smoldered away in between her fingers. The door opened.
Yemi Abeeb walked into what used to be her husband’s office which was supposed to be her son’s current office but was obviously her former housemaid’s office now. The impact of what had been happening to them all this while hit her with full impact and she aged visibly as fatihat watched her without a flicker of expression. She dragged on the cigar stick sharply and dropped the half-smoked cigar into the ashtray as she leaned into the seat.
“Good afternoon, fatihat” Yemi greeted her quietly.
“Good afternoon, Mrs. Abeeb. Please have your seat.” She gestured casually to a seat and reached for her box of cigar stick. Yemi sank down gratefully into a seat opposite her and watched the beautiful young lady before sighing heavily to herself.
“Thank you. Where is Tunde? I thought this was his office. That was why I came here.”Yemi watched her lit a cigar stick, dragged at it and blew the smoke leisurely into the air before turning to face her.
“The general manager’s office is where he is but I guess he should be out of the office now to see one of our existing clients. Will you leave a message for him?” She asked casually, pushing a notepad with a pen to her across the heavy, dark mahogany table between them.
“There is no problem. I will probably talk to him when and if he comes home tonight. Can I talk to you for a moment, fatihat?”Yemi asked hesitantly, even as she realized that this sophisticated, wild young woman was different from the innocent beautiful girl she used to know a long time ago. Thanks to me and my son, she thought bitterly.
“Please shoot. I’m all ears but you have to make it snappy because I have to leave the office any moment from now.” she glanced at her slim gold wrist-watch and met her gaze.
“How will I convince you that I’m truly sorry for what happened between us almost eight years ago? I should have listened to you.”Yemi said earnestly as she leans forward.
“Yes, you should have but you didn’t and that happened light years ago. Please forget it, Mrs. Abeeb and let’s move on with life.” She flashed a brief smile as she flicked ash into the ashtray with a gentle tap of her long fingers.
“It is obvious you are not ready to talk about it. Thank you for not walking me out of your office. I hope we will be friends one day though.”Yemi got to her feet with the remnants of her pride and moved towards the door.
“Good day, Mrs. Abeeb. I will tell your son you stop by.” she told her back and turned away to smoke in silence. She went to deliver the message to Tunde’s secretary and left company’s premises immediately.
Tunde came in thirty minutes later and went straight to fatihat’s office.
“She is not in sir.” Lara told him as she looked up from her system.
“Where has she gone to? Our contract has been renewed and we have to finalize it before they have a chance to change their mind.”Tunde was barely suppressing the excitement bubbling in him.
“Well……..she left a note that she is going to the golf club to see some friends.” She said feeling distinctly embarrassed for what seemed like her boss’s irresponsible action.
“She went to a golf club in the middle of a workday?” He asked in disbelieve that was rapidly turning to anger.
“Yes sir.” she replied quietly.
“I will be right back.” He promised ominously and strode out of the office. He knew her favorite golf club because he had gone to drag her from the place one or two times which had ended in a severe row between them. He got to the club, seething with rage and went straight to the receptionist.
“Good afternoon. Have you seen Delilah Smith today?” He asked without preamble. “She was here for about thirty minutes and left in the company of friends for Alpha beach for a get-together I think. I heard her talking to a lady called Josephine.”Fatihat was a popular figure in the club and virtually everybody knew her. The young receptionist looked at Tunde, wondering if her explanation made any sense to him and he thanked her with a generous tip. He called Josephine and demanded to know where her sister was headed to.
“She is at Alpha beach for a get-together party and from there she is headed for ……….I can’t remember the name of the hotel for an all-night party. In short, she is not coming home tonight and that was why she called me. Is there any problem?” Josephine asked casually, sorting through files on her table.
“It is nothing I can’t handle. Thanks for the information.” His tone turned icy as he headed for the beach. He recognized her immediately he strolled into the party arena, even though she has changed into a jean bum short and a short tank top which did not cover her navel.
She dropped a can of Smirnoff she was holding and was dancing vigorously to Wande coal’s ‘bumper to bumper’ that was blaring from God’s nowhere. Her friends cheered her on and even Tunde has to admit she was an excellent dancer.
Tunde waited patiently until the volume of the music went down so that the real program could begin before moving to where she sat with her friends, smiling faintly as she tried to light a cigar and all eyes moved towards him.
“Good day, ladies and gentlemen. I’m sorry I need the attention of one of your friends, Lilah Smith.” His lips smiled at them but his eyes were like a chip of ice and fatihat knew he was furious.
“Tunde, what is the meaning of this?” she asked as she got abruptly to her feet and glared at him.
“There is time for everything. It is time to go back to work. Don’t bother to create a scene because I won’t hesitate to lift you bodily out of this party arena.’’
“My clothing is in my car, it is at the golf club. I came in my friends’ car.” She protested strongly, digging in her heels but his hand fastened around her upper arm like a steel rope.
“Please behave yourself. Let’s go. I got you a skirt suit on my way here and you will work for it, I promise you.” He said as he started pulling at her wrists.
“Damn it! Who is the boss here anyway? I can damn well sack you” She threatened hotly.
“When I’m no longer part of the company, you may run it down but as long as I’m still part of the team, I won’t allow you to play when you should be working. Do you understand that?” He said through gritted teeth.Fatihat wanted to slap him but she realized suddenly that her friends were watching and listening to them openly and unashamedly.
“Can I at least say goodbye to them?” she said through gritted teeth, swallowing her pride with deliberate effort.
“I give you five minutes. Otherwise….” He left the sentence hanging as he strolled away. Fatihat stood for a moment, staring at him in rising anger before she turned to her friends.
“Nice looking dude. Is that your latest man friend? He sure handles you.” Martha said with undisguised admiration, staring at his retreating back.
“He is my manager, my employee, he works for me.”
“He is one hell of an employee but I can smell the attraction between you guys. Are you sure you he is not going to be more than an employee eventually?” Andrew said with a grin as he dragged at a cigar stick.
“I don’t appreciate that joke at all. See you guys some other time.” She picked up her beach bag and swung away.
“I bet five hundred dollars that Lilah will eventually sleep with that guy.” She heard Andrew said which fueled her anger.
“I second it.” Michael chipped in.
“I hope not because I really like that guy and I will look out for him.” Martha said sulkily and the others burst into laughter but fatihat did not even smile.
Fatihat joined Tunde in the car, bristling with anger and spoiling for a real fight but he didn’t even spare her a glance as he kicked the engine to life. He drove to his friend’s hotel which was on their route and pulled up in the car park at the rear of the hotel. He reached behind her and dropped a T.M Lewis bag on her lap.
“I’m going to borrow my friend’s suite so that you can change in privacy. I don’t have all the time in the whole world because we’ve wasted enough of it already. Let’s go.” He said quietly and unlocked the doors.
“Can I have the suite‘s number and the key to it?” She held out her hands but he ignored it and stepped out of the car, giving her no choice than to follow.
A security man came over with a smile and greeted him, then saluted her as if she wasn’t improperly dressed. “I will be right back, Stephen.”Tunde gave him his car key and propelled fatihat towards the back entrance of the hotel with his hand on the small of her bare back. She turned on him fiercely immediately he opened the suite and they were alone.
“What is your problem anyway? You love playing the knight in shining armor, right?”
“I don’t have time for your injured dignity; fatihat.You should have acted more responsibly.” He glanced at his wrist-watch pointedly.
“You can go to hell with your suits. I’m not in the mood to work and I’m not coming with you.” She flopped into a sofa and dropped the bag like a pack of trash. He leaned over her with his hands on both arms of the sofa, automatically trapping her in and said with a dead calm
“I won’t hesitate to undress you and dress you up properly. It will be a great pleasure to me, miss Ali.”
“You are a fool.” She raised her hand to hit him but he caught it in his hand and stared down at her.
“You are a real bitch.”He held her upper arms in a fierce grip and his mouth came down on hers with a brutal force. She winced as her lips got bruised and whimpered in protest against him.
The next moment he was the one sitting down and she was cuddled in his laps while his lips softened up on hers. She sank between his laps and kissed him back with a fire-hot passion that seemed to consume them both. He gathered her closer and his fingers slipped beneath the hem of her tank top while her fingers got busy with the buttons on his shirt. He sucked in his breath when her cool fingertips came into contact with his skin and he groaned against her mouth. The kiss deepened as his arm tightened around her and she moaned. He reached for the tank top and pulled it over her head before she could protest. She was bra-less and his blood boiled with passion at the sight.
“Oh God! I want you so much.” He groaned as he buried his head between her breasts and she shuddered involuntarily. They were soon drowning in the sea of passion that threatened to drown them both, all reasons and places are forgotten.
“Tunde Abeeb, what are you doing in a hotel room with a woman in the middle of a workday?”Olayiwola Douglass‘s voice proceeded him into the suite.
Tunde dropped Fatihat in the bedroom with a speed of lightning. “Dress up and meet me downstairs. I will be waiting for you.” He mouthed at her and was gone before she could reply.
“Get out” He met his friend at the door and the latter took in his less than elegant appearance in a glance.
“Who is she? She must be very important for you leave the most important work in the world to bring her here.” He leaned against the door post.
“Stop being such a poke nose and go back to work.”Tunde made a show of dressing up properly and propelled his friend out of the room.
“You don’t want to tell me who she is, isn’t it? Have you forgotten Nike so soon? This is one woman who has stayed with you when you needed one most.”Olayiwola said bitterly and he gave a deep sigh.
“I’ve never forgotten her, Ola but what should I do if she refused to see or talk to me. She has even changed her number because of me. If she truly loves and trusts me, she could have given me a benefit of doubt, despite everything. There is a limit to what a man can take, don’t you think so?”
“You are right. I did try approaching her too but it was as if we’ve never been friends, she was so cold. So are you dating someone else now?” His friend asked in curiosity. “No. I need that company back on its feet before anything else, even if it is no longer mine. I don’t have time for relationships.” He moved down the staircase.
“But you have time for flings, right?”Olayiwola teased as he followed behind.
“Flings doesn’t cost anything and drop it, I won’t tell you who she is.” He grinned and headed out to his car.Fatihat joined him barely five minutes later and they drove back to the office in a companion silence.
She thought the previous day was the most stressful at work but she realized that today was even worse and Tunde had spent the whole of the two days in her office, working towards a deadline that was drawing near. They were working towards a contract and they needed to put certain things in place before they had any chance of being considered at all. They had a very short break in which they were supplied with snacks and drinks by her secretary and they joined a conference call after then which ended in the evening. “I’m ready to drop.” She flopped unto the sofa in her office and closed her eyes. “Common, Fatihat. We have a few more files to go through now and we are done here.” “I can’t go on any longer. Every other thing can go to hell.” she removed a cigar from the pack on the stool beside her and put a lighter to it.
“We will achieve more at a faster rate if we do this together, then we can both go home. We should be able to go to that meeting tomorrow.”He was growing impatient.
“You are the workaholic, Mr. Abeeb, please get on with it.” She blew smoke leisurely into the air and smiled at him.
“Don’t be such a spoilsport, fatihat. Don’t you want a return on your money?’ He struggled to visibly control his temper.
“I’ve other investments elsewhere that will yield plenty of profits either I work for it or not, you are the one who will get hurt if this company went under because it is your last hope.” She told him flatly. His heart went cold as he realized bitterly that she was right. “I accept, iron lady. I promise to drive you home if only we can just finish this today. Be a good girl.” He grinned at her. She sighed heavily as she realized he won’t give up on her.
“You are a real pain in the ass and I will stay well clear of you after we are done here.” Her voice sounded bitter as she dropped the half-smoked cigar into the ashtray and got to her feet. “You will drive me home in my car.” she said after a moment.
“I will even carry you to your bedroom and give you a bath if you want.” He teased. She hissed in exasperation.
Fatihat was unusually quiet on their way home. She closed her eyes as she leaned her head on the head-seat. He thought she was asleep, so he drove in silence until he was held up in traffic and turned off the ignition key. He rolled down the window in time to see a little girl waving gleefully at him and he stared at her in amazement until he realized it may be fatihat she was actually waving to. He tapped her on the knees and she gave him a sleepy look.
“The little gala girl across the road has been trying to get your attention, I guess.” He gestured towards the little girl’s direction. Fatihat looked and then, grinned.
“Hey, baby. Whatz up?”Fatihat waved at her. The girl came running across the road, unaware that cars had started moving.The blue Nissan pickup coming towards her tried to stop in time but not before her dress caught the front of the car and she went down on her face on the road.
“Oh my god!”Fatihat muttered in horror as her heart seemed to freeze in her chest. With a burst of renewed energy, she yanked the car door open and got out.
“For God’s sake, Fatihat, use your sense and watched the way.”Tunde shouted after her but his warning was too late because she has jumped over the mid-way pavement with an unladylike agility and ran over to the girl sprawled on the ground with her wares spread around her. The driver of the van turned off his engine and came out of the car.
“Gift, are you okay?”Fatihat knelt beside the little girl, not caring about her five hundred dollars expensive suit she wore and lifted the little girl’s head gently, being careful not to move her too much in case she had broken something. The girl nodded numbly and she realized that the girl was more shocked than hurt. Relieve washed over her like a tide and she closed her eyes briefly before sweeping the little girl into her arms. Gift hugged her back and started crying.
“It is okay, baby. You are safe with me.”Fatihat smiled at her and kissed her cheek. “Madam, do you know the little girl?” The driver asked with a plain puzzle.
“The fact that I know her or do not know is none of your damn business. Why is it so difficult for you to have a little patience and let her go before moving? Assuming she was killed or bruised further than this, I would have made sure you spend the rest of your life in jail.” she said coldly.
“Take it easy, Fatihat. How is the little girl?” Tunde said as he joined them. She got to her feet before pushing the little girl unceremoniously into his arms.
“I’m sorry, madam. I didn’t see her on time.” The driver said, faintly embarrassed. She bent down and counted the number of sausages scattered on the ground to the amazement of those witnesses watching them.
“There are fifty sausages in the box, put your hand in your pocket and give me two thousand, five hundred naira only.” She snapped her fingers at him. Everybody burst into laughter except the harassed driver.
“Why should I give you any amount of money? After all, she is not your child and she is not bruised.” He said indignantly.
“That is a small amount to pay for what you did. Answer me now.” Her voice was hostile. He removed his wallet from his pocket and counted out the money to her.
“Thank you for your concern.” She suddenly grinned at the sea of faces around them, pick up the box of gala along with the unspoiled ones. “Let’s go, Tunde.”She went over to where he stood with the now quiet little girl and could see he was furious but she ignored him. By that time, cars had started moving and they got into her car.
“You are not in the position to hawk anymore tonight. Where do you live?”Fatihat sat beside him and the girl slipped into space between them.
“I live on Denro road, that bad dusty road that leads to akute. I like your car. I’ve never been in one before.” The little girl leaned over to whisper in her ear and she winced slightly.
“Are you hurt? Is it your back or your waist?”Fatihat asked quickly in concern.
“My back hurt a little.” Gift admitted.
“Let me see it.”Fatihat pulled the girl across her lap before she could protest and saw the bruised skin through the torn in her dress. She inspected it and pulled the dress down a little to know the extent of her injury.
Just above the cotton panties on her lower back, the small black mole stood out on the fair skin!
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