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Promise unlocked the gate, opened it and got back into the car. She drove into her father’s compound, parked the car and alighted from it again. She closed the gate,
Her parents and siblings would be back from work in the evening. That leaved her about three hours of loneliness before they returned. She had a quick bath and made her way into the large kitchen.
She needed something to eat. What could she prepare under ten minutes? She settled for indomie noodles and fried plantain. In fifteen minutes, she walked into the sitting room with a plate of indomie noodles, garnished with fried plantain and accompanied with a chicken lap. She placed the plate and her glass of chilled coca cola drink on the centre table and sat on the rug. She searched for the television remote, found it on one of the chairs, switched it on and settled to enjoy her well prepared meal.
At half past ten that night, Promise went to see her parents in the Master bedroom.
“Mum, dad, can I speak with you for a moment?”
Osagie placed the book he was reading on the bed, “You have our attention dear,” he hoped all was well with her. He had noticed how restless she had grown since she had been searching for her dream job.
She joined them on the bed and sat cross-legged.
Blessing winked at her husband, she believed that their daughter had decided to open up to them. It was about time anyway.
“Mum, dad, I have decided to work at your company for a while, until I get the job that I am looking for.”
Blessing blinked in disbelief. Osagie noticed his wife’s expression and tried not to laugh.
“That’s wonderful dear. We are so glad that you have changed your mind.”
“Thanks dad,” she turned to look at her mum and saw her disturbed gaze, “Mum, are you okay?”
“Your mum is fine love. Do have a goodnight.”
Promise nodded and headed out. She hoped her dad was right.
Blessing met her husband’s amused stare.
“You actually thought she would open up to us tonight?”
She nodded in reply.
He reached out and squeezed her hand, “Give her time sweet heart.”
Her heart sank. She was beginning to think their daughter would never open up to them.
“Hey, come on, cheer up,” he drew her closer.
She sighed and relaxed in the comfort of his embrace. At least she had decided to work at the Textile Company for a while. The job hunting drama had taken a stressful toll on her. But, she would not give up, she hoped that someday soon, Promise would confide in them.
Gbenga Lewis took his time to climb the flight of stairs that led to the CEO’s office. His tall lanky frame was clad in a white long sleeve T.M. Lewin shirt and black shiny pants with a matching white and black striped tie. His black Italian shoes made little or no noise on the marble stairs.
He received a call from Mr. Daodu after the morning devotion. He was a bit puzzled why the CEO wanted to see him. He hoped it had nothing to do with the documents he audited the day before. He had gone through the figures a zillion times and had arrived at the same conclusion.
Shalewa, Mr. Daodu’s personal assistant, was seated at her desk as usual. She smiled when she sighted him and pointed at the CEO’s door. He nodded and knocked at the door.
He heard the CEO’s voice, turned the doorknob and pushed the door open.
“Good morning sir.”
Osagie Daodu was seated behind his mahogany desk, chatting amicably with two women. He acknowledged him and leaned back on his black leather seat.
Gbenga noticed the two women seated, one was Mrs. Daodu, the next in command in the company and the other, she looked familiar, but he doubted if they had met.
“Good morning ma.”
“Morning Gbenga,” she smiled at him.
He turned and met the other woman’s dark gaze, “Good morning.”
She nodded and looked away. ‘What is with me and tall fair in complexion men? God deliver me.’ She tried to act cool and calm.
A frown creased his brow. Why didn’t she reply? What was she feeling like? He was sure he was older than her. Why do young people lack respect these days?
“Gbenga I want you to meet my first daughter.”
His boss’ voice drew him out of his thoughts. First daughter? He had met Gift Daodu. He didn’t know she had an elder sister. He had thought Prince and Gift were the only children of the Daodus.
“She will be with us for a while. She would be supervising our Public Relations department. Please show her around and introduce her to everyone.”
“All right sir,” he glanced at her again. She looked too young to be handling a whole department. She wouldn’t be more than twenty-five or twenty-six years if he wasn’t mistaken. He hoped Mr. Daodu knew what he was doing.
“Promise, Gbenga Lewis is the head of the Accounts department. He has been with us since he graduated from the university five years ago. He served in this company and we retained him.”
“Really?” She met his hazel gaze. Her heart skipped and her throat went dry.
“I am ready when you are,” he forced a smile.
She cleared her throat and faced her parents, “Catch you two later.”
“All right sweets,” her mother winked at her.
“Welcome to Red Flower Textile Company,” her father saluted her.
She chuckled and walked out of the office with Gbenga.
Promise had a brief meeting with the members of staff in the Public Relations department. Some seemed genuinely pleased to have her as their superior, while a few others cared less. Their acceptance or displeasure was the least of her concerns. She would do all she could to boost her parent’s company while she had the time. She would contribute her quarter in Red Flower Textile Company.
Prince and Gift strolled into her office without knocking.
“Wow! Look at her office, some people have all the luck,” Gift sized up the large room.
Prince settled on one of the chairs before the large table and faced his sister, “Hello madam,” he winked at her.
Promise leaned back on her chair and watched them, “The sooner both of you returned to school, the better.”
Gift bursted out in laughter and took a seat beside her brother.
“Dad told me you are in the Accounts department,” she looked at Prince who nodded and then glanced at Gift, “And you are in the Human Resources department.”
Gift nodded, “Yes, nice unit, loads of work. I am actually on break.”
“Same here. Am on break too. Mr. Gbenga is in charge of the Accounts department and he is good with what he does.”
“Yes. I have learnt a lot working with him.”
“He is still single, no wonder he closes late most of the time. No wife and kids to go home to.”
Prince kicked her on the knee.
“Hey!” She retaliated and hit him on the rib.
Promise raised a hand, “I think both of you have over-stayed you’re welcome. I don’t want you little tigers to turn my office into a battle field.”
“He started it,” she stuck out her tongue at him.
She placed a hand on her forehead, “Both of you are not children anymore. You will be twenty-four this year and you will turn twenty-one.”
Her siblings locked gazes with her.
Why were they staring at her like that?
“You are celebrating your twenty-seventh birthday this year,” Prince winked at her.
She crossed her hands, “So?”
“When are you getting married?” Gift leaned towards the table, ready for her sister’s response.
The question caught her by surprised. Gift and her insatiable curiosity! What made her ask?
“Gift, leave my office this moment.”
Prince pulled her up, “Let us go trouble-maker.”
“Leave me alone. What is wrong with you?” She tried to fight him off, but, he tightened his grip and forced her out.
Promise watched them go. Her younger sister was something else.
Gbenga decided to take a walk. He had been in a seated position for more than five hours. He doesn’t feel like working late that day. He might watch a movie once he got home or turn in early for the night.
He walked out of his office and headed for the cafeteria. He would clock thirty in a few weeks time and he wasn’t in any relationship. He had dated a few women in the past, but, he had never met anyone he would love to spend the rest of his life with. He was the last child of his parents. All his siblings were married with children. No one was putting him under pressure, but, he knew they all hoped he would settle down some day soon.
He doesn’t want to marry just anybody. At least she must be a practising born-again Christian. Many Christians do not follow the path that God has laid out for them. The last thing he wanted to do was to make the mistake of marrying a Church-goer. Aside being a born-again Christian, the lady must be a graduate. He wanted someone who could reason with him intellectually.
A few feet away from the cafeteria, he saw Promise stepping out. She noticed him, nodded and kept walking.
A frown crossed his face. What’s with her and her nods? An ‘hello’ or a ‘hi’ or a ‘good afternoon’ would have been appropriate. Was she shy? She doesn’t look or act shy. May be she was just arrogant or something. Why was her nods annoying him anyway? She was his boss’ daughter. She had the right to act or respond to anyone in whatever way she wanted. He pondered whether to go into the cafeteria or return to his office.
Promise took a quick look behind her and saw Gbenga standing outside the cafeteria. Why was he standing there and staring at nothing in particular?
‘Why do I always feel tongue-tied whenever he is around me? This is not nice. This is not nice at all. God what’s happening to me? I don’t think I am ready for another relationship yet. Dissolve any attraction I feel towards Gbenga before it develops into something stronger. Do it Lord, and fast!’
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She got out of the white 2004 Toyota Camry, clad in a navy blue skirt suit. Her black laptop bag was strapped on one shoulder while she held her navy blue hand bag on the other hand. She locked the car and matched into the two storey building with an air of confidnece.
It was the end of another week in February and she was looking forward to a restful weekend. Her week had been busy; her work schedule had almost spilled over into her weekend, but she had made a decision a long time ago not to allow her work to take over her weekends. Those were the only days she had to recuperate and volunteer in church activities.
On her way to her office, she overheard a group of staff members deliberating on what gift they would get for Gbenga Lewis who was celebrating his thirtieth birthday that weekend. She erased the information from her mind, she doesn’t want to know anything about someone she was trying to give a wide berth.
A smile crossed her lips when she saw Shalewa and Nkiruka coming towards her. Shalewa was her father’s personal assistant and Nkiruka worked with her mother. The ladies were both single, they were probably in their late twenties if she wasn’t mistaken.
“Good morning ma,” they both chorused.
“Good morning pretty ladies.”
They both chuckled.
“I believe you are looking forward to a jolly weekend.”
“Yes we are.”
“Mr. Lewis’ birthday party is this Saturday,” Nkiruka injected.
“Really?” She groaned.
“Yes, he rarely celebrates his birthday, but, he is clocking thirty tomorrow.”
“It is worth celebrating,” Shalewa chimed.
Promise nodded in agreement, “Yes, it is. Later ladies,” she hurried away, hoping that, that would be the last time someone would mention Gbenga’s birthday party that day.
‘What’s with people and parties?’ She muttered to herself.
The loud bangs on her bedroom door drew her out of her afternoon nap. She groaned and pulled herself up.
‘Who is that?! Why can’t I get peace of mind in my own house? I might as well start looking for my own apartment. Assuming I was working in an international communications company, I would have…’ Her thoughts trailed off when the bangs got louder.
“Hold on!” She marched towards the door, “Don’t break my door.”
She unlock the door and opened it slightly. Her mother stood at the doorway, hands akimbo.
“What were you doing in there? I have been knocking for over an hour.”
Promise rolled her eyes and stifled a yawn. Her mother was the Queen when it came to exaggerating things.
“Where you sleeping?” Her voice softened when she noticed her daughter’s tired eyes.
She nodded and closed the door.
“What is wrong with this girl?!” Her mother started to knock again.
She stamped her feet on the tiled floor several times in annoyance. ‘What does this woman want from me? Oh God!’ She mused.
“Open this door this minute before I kick it down,” Her mother’s voice streamed into the room loud and clear.
Promise turned the doorknob and opened the door half-way.
“What is wrong with you?”
“Nothing mum. Mum I need to rest, what is it?”
Blessing eyed her daughter. What was wrong with her daughter? Why was she at home sleeping while her mates were out there enjoying their weekend? She had noticed little changes in her daughter’s character and attitude towards certain things since she returned from Abuja over three months ago. She would give anything to know what was going on her mind. How she wished she would confide in her.
Promised frowned when she noticed her mother’s lost look. What was she thinking about?
“Mum! Hello! Is anybody home?”
Blessing blinked and refocused on her, “Your father and I need you to deliver a birthday gift.”
Her frown deepened, “When did I become FedEx?”
Blessing eyed her again, “We would have sent your siblings but you know that they have returned to school.”
Promise shrugged she wasn’t going anywhere. She wasn’t a courier service.
“It’s Gbenga Lewis’s birthday. We need you to attend his party and give him our gift. He is a good and reliable worker,” she smiled.
Her heart took a giant leap the moment she heard his name. Promise began to shake her head.
“Can’t it wait till Monday?”
She began to feel irritated by her daughter’s attitude, “Look here young woman. You are taking this gift to his party and that is final!”
She folded her hands across her chest, “With due respect mum, I cannot go. I am tired and I need to sleep. Why don’t you call your personal assistant? I believe she will gladly deliver the gift.”
She looked at her in shock. Something was definitely wrong with her daughter.
“Mum, please,” Promise stepped back into her room and shut the door.
Her jaw dropped in amazement. Where was her husband?
“Osagie! Osagie! Come and see your daughter,” Blessing went in search of her husband.
Promise laid on her bed but she couldn’t sleep. If her mother reported her to her dad, he would call her and probably cajole her into attending Gbenga’s party in order to deliver their gift. She doesn’t want to see him. She doesn’t want to have anything to do with him. How was she going to explain to her parents that the real reason why she doesn’t want to deliver their gift was because she was attracted to the Accountant?
She sprang up. She had to leave the house. She wasn’t going anywhere near Gbenga’s house.
Promise tiptoed towards the front door. Her parents were seated in the sitting room watching the television. She hoped to leave the house without alerting them. But, the moment she opened the door, her mother turned her head and saw her.
“Where do you think you are going?”
Promise closed her eyes. ‘Oh God!’
“Sleeping beauty,” her father approached her carrying a wrapped gift.
She opened her eyes and refused to look at him.
“Please baby girl. Do this for your helpless parents.”
“Why are you begging her? She has grown wings. You should have been there when she was talking to me as if… ”
“Blessing,” his voice cut her short. She hissed and returned her attention to the television screen.
He faced his daughter, “Baby please.”
Promise eyed her dad and collected the gift.
“His address is in the brown envelope and some cash too for the road.”
Her face lit with a smile.
“You are bribing her with money,” Blessing hissed again, “You are the one spoiling these children.”
“Run along and don’t come home late.”
“All right dad,” she gave him a peck on the cheek and left.
“She bribed you too with a peck,” Blessing clapped her hands, “Wonders shall never end in this house.”
Osagie locked the front door and joined his wife on the settee.
“They are adults now love. We can’t keep treating them like children.”
“Really? In our days… ”
“Exactly! That was in our days, the generation of today, we need to be very careful.”
“Hmm… ” She sighed and decided to stop arguing. Her husband was probably right. Nevertheless, her daughter had never spoken to her like that before. She needed to get to the root of the matter.
Did Promise have anything against Gbenga Lewis? The mere mention of his name seemed to bring out the worst in her. She would watch both of them closely henceforth. Something might be cooking, whether good or bad, she would find out.
Promise checked out the address her father had written out. Gbenga lived at Dolphin Estate. It wasn’t far from her area. Where did he get the money to rent an apartment in such an expensive place? Her parent’s company paid their staff handsomely, but, living in Dolphin Estate with that kind of salary was financially suicidal.
She decided to deliver the gift and visit the Silverbird Cinema to watch a movie. That was the best plan she could come up with. She wasn’t into visiting friends. Aside Kabira who lived in Abuja with her husband, she had no close friend. The few people she tagged as friends were just girls she attended the same High school or University with. Nothing special. She wasn’t really close to anyone in church either.
She located the house. It was a duplex and she could hear the music blasting within the compound. She checked the brown envelop again and found his phone number. She picked up her blackberry phone and dialed it. It rang for a very long time. She decided to send him a text message.
A few minutes later, someone opened the brown gate and stepped out. Promise got out of the car with the gift. Her breath caught in her throat when she saw Gbenga clad in a pair of blue jeans with a fitted black tee-shirt.
‘Lord God Almighty! Why did you create fair in complexion guys?’
He approached her and sized her up. Her slim figure was cradled in a pink short sleeve blouse, complimented with a white three-quarter pant. He tried not to smile, but he couldn’t help it. She looked beautiful.
She stilled her emotions and cleared her throat, “My parents wanted you to have this,” she lifted the gift.
His smile faded, “Please extend my gratitude,” he collected the gift from her.
He raised his brow in surprise, “Thanks, why don’t you come in?”
She shook her head, “No, thanks. I have to go.”
He tried not to look disappointed.
“Em… Nice house.”
He glanced back at the building, “I inherited it from my father.”
“Oh!” It was good to know that he wasn’t living above his means as she had thought.
“He is late.”
“Oh… I am sorry.”
She began to play with her car keys. She wanted to leave but her legs stood rooted to the ground.
“Are you sure you don’t want to come in?” He noticed her reluctance to leave.
She lifted her eyes and met his watchful ones.
Gbenga realized that he might have judged his boss’ first daughter wrongly. He had always thought she was arrogant and puffed up, but, it seemed that, that wasn’t the case. He had seen the way she related with other people, and he thought she was deliberately picking on him by been unapproachable. He couldn’t deny the fact that he was attracted to her and at the moment, he had a nagging feeling that she also felt the same way.
She tore her eyes away and found the strength to walk back to the car. She needed to leave, she had lost her composure completely. She unlocked it and mumbled something that sounds like ‘See you on Monday’.
He felt a slight pain across his chest when he realized that she was leaving. He hurried towards her and held the door of the car before she could close it.
Her astonished gaze met his pleading ones.
“I want you to stay.”
She swallowed hard and tightened her grip on the car key.
She looked away and took a deep breath.
‘Promise, I hope you know what you are doing.’
She got out of the car and locked it.
“Thank you. Welcome to my humble home.”
She chuckled and followed him into the house.
‘Lord God, over to you
To Be Continued…