“One step closer” – Christina Perri, A Thousand years
She was late and was getting extremely impatient but she knew she could do nothing about it at the moment, she checked her wristwatch and glanced at the old clock on the wall impatiently. All her boss was saying was lost on her, that was simply because her mind was faraway from the room, it was at Fowler Inc with Jaiye Fowler.
Again she glanced at the wall clock and while she dragged her eyes to her wristwatch, she caught her eyes.
Tolu was watching her intently from the other end of the room, and just like Nene, she wasn’t listening to their boss too. Nene eyed her but was surprised when Tolu flashed her a smile in response.
Distracted by her phone, Nene reluctantly dragged her gaze from Tolu, the phone vibrated and she realised it was her mother calling. She couldn’t pick the phone at the moment but she made a mental note to call her as soon as the meeting was over.
She tapped her feet impatiently, it was 1.30pm, her appointment with Jaiye Fowler was for 12pm. She was an hour and thirty minutes late and she couldn’t do anything about it. She had only learnt about this meeting after she left Jaiye’s last night and her boss had insisted she attended with every member of staff. All her pleading had fallen on deaf ears and her boss had insisted that she would be queried if she dared miss the meeting. Not ready to lose her job, she had grudgingly accepted to attend the meeting.
“Meeting over” she heard him say now.
The words were music to her ears as she grabbed her things and ran to the door, her six inch heels doing nothing to stop her. However, Tolu caught up with her regardless.
“Hmm…Mrs Fowler, I see what you’re doing” she said, a sly smile playing on her lips.
Nene frowned, “what are you talking about?”
“The interviews and the lies you have been making everyone believe. Nice. You want his attention so you can get close abi? I like your style.”
Nene regarded her carefully but said nothing. Tolu continued, “you know, I never thought of that style. It is a nice one,but let’s see how far it gets you” she added with a sneer.
Nene hissed. She wasn’t in the mood for Tolu today or any other day, she walked away.
Tolu watched her rival leave, Nene was a schemer yes, but she was a bigger schemer. Whatever Nene did, she did better and whatever Nene got from the Fowlers was going to be hers because she would get it out of her before she made it to the boss and the whole world. It was her style. She didn’t work yet she got the proceeds. It was what she had used to get all she had, it was what she’d use to get all Nene’s hardwork.
She smiled satisfactorily.
Nene burst out of the office premises and waved every cab that drove past the building, it was some minutes to 2pm and her appointment was two hours ago. She swore under her breath as she thought of her boss and his never ending talks, he had cost her this meeting and she wouldn’t forgive him in a hurry.
A cab slowed down and she jumped in without bargaining, she didn’t care how much he called it, she had to be at the Fowler office now.
“Ikoyi. Fast!” She told the driver and he sped out of the premises.
Jaiye Fowler glanced at his wristwatch, it was 2pm, his meeting started in fifteen minutes and it was going to last the entire day. He hadn’t seen Nene, the woman was supposed to show up at 12pm and she didn’t. He wondered if she was fine and what was keeping her.
He stood and picked a golf stick that was by the side of his mahogany office table in the large office, then he picked a red golf ball which bore his name Jaiye and then gently kicked the ball with the stick as he watched it roll into a small hole that had been made solely for that purpose.
Jaiye played “office golf” like his sister Jo would call it, anytime he was nervous or worried about something, the meeting he was soon to have was making him nervous and he needed to be calm. He was Jaiye Fowler, the calmest Fowler brother, the one who didn’t let any situation, no matter how serious it was get under his skin.
He had been like that since he was a child, then he would get seriously injured and mask the pain with a smile until his mother discovered it somehow.
When he suffered his first heartbreak, he had masked the emotional pain just like he masked the physical pain. He hurt inside everyday, sometimes even succumbed to a tear or two when he was alone but had never shown it, not even when his elder brothers Jide and Jire had teased him about it.
Now that he was thirty, he was a pro at what he had started as a child. He now masked feelings, disappointments, hurt and sometimes even happiness, extremely well. It was one of the reasons his ex Tara walked away from his life.
He thought of the meeting now, Fowler Inc was divided into three; The Fowler Hotels, Avant Garde Magazine and Fowler Automobiles. He headed the Fowler Hotels and his eldest brother, Jide ran the other two parts of the company effortlessly well (there were plans that Jo would take over the magazine arm as soon as she became “responsible” and “of age” though).
Jaiye was a great businessman and even Jide asked him for help sometimes but even at that he still got nervous in some cases, like now. He was trying to buy their biggest competitor out of business and he had it all planned out with one of the directors but even at that he was nervy.
His office phone buzzed and he pressed the receiver, placing the call on speaker.
It was his colleague, Mazi. The one he was having the meeting with in some minutes. He was the only one who referred to him as Jaiyejaiye.
“Una don ready?”
Jaiye nodded as if Mazi could see him, “Yes”
“Okay, I dey come your office now.”
Nene emerged from the elevator and walked carefully on the tiled floor into the third floor that Fowler Hotels occupied, the office was breathtaking, she allowed herself drink in every detail as she walked towards the front desk.
The walls were painted cream and the architectural design was jawdropping, each department in the office was separated with glass, she looked around in amazement and didn’t realise she had reached the front desk until she collided into Jaiye’s PA.
“I’m sorry” she hurriedly apologised. The PA mumbled something and holding her stomach as if she was in pain ran past Nene. Nene watched her carefully, a look of worry on her face. “are you okay?”
The PA nodded but Nene knew something was wrong and as soon as the latter walked away from her she saw that her neon coloured slim fitted dress was soaked with blood.
“Oh my God…your dress!” Nene exclaimed.
The PA stared in horror as she realised her dress was stained, grabbing her bag, she ran towards the toilet.
When Jaiye stepped out to remind his Personal assistant of the meeting they were soon to have, he had been expecting to see her at her desk and not Nene.
“Miss Francis, you’re late” he said matter-of-factly.
Nene started apologising “And I’m very sorry about that, something came up at work and…”
Jaiye cut in, “we can’t talk now. Can you come back in two days? I have a meeting right now that would last at least three hours and I have to be in Abuja tomorrow morning.”
Nene was slightly disappointed, she had been hoping Jaiye would still have a little time to spare her.
She nodded, “that’s fine.”
Jaiye’s PA returned to the table and Nene noticed that she looked pale, even though she was very dark skinned, one couldn’t overlook the paleness that she bore.
“Sir, I have to go home.” She began, Nene noticed that her voice was rather shaky and she wondered if it had to do with the fact that she was speaking to her boss or the fact that she had something going on with her. “my period started and I’m in terrible pains and my dress…” She showed a visibly shocked Jaiye her dress.
Jaiye simply didn’t want to discuss periods as much as he genuinely sympathised with her. “Wow…wow…okay Nkem. Please go home and have this taken care of” he said and Nkem thanked him profusely, picked her bag and walked towards the door.
“Nkem!” Jaiye called and she faced him, “tell the driver to take you home. You can’t go home like this”.
Nkem thanked him again and vacated the office. Nene watched her leave and then faced Jaiye, he was a kind man. He had asked her to come see him for money and he had taken care of his assistant’s situation. He was a good man she could see and at that moment she felt guilty for wanting to use his secrets for her own selfish purpose.
Mazi walked out of his office and joined the duo.
“Where’s Nkem?” Mazi asked, looking around the office.
“She has terrible fever, she had to go home” Jaiye replied and Nene found herself smiling. He did go all the way to protect, didn’t he? She found that appealing and very attractive.
“But we need someone to bring in refreshments and take down minutes” Mazi quipped.
There was silence for a few minutes and the two men suddenly slowly faced Nene.
She smiled and nodded “sure”.
Nene didn’t expect the meeting to be so relaxing and sometimes even funny, Jaiye knew his business, he smoothly discussed with the people he was in the meeting with like he wasn’t trying to make their hotel his.
“The Fowlers are just bloody thieves, you people will not stop until you own everything even the country!” One of the partners at the hotel Jaiye was trying to buy said. Nene tried to gauge the man’s expression, he wasn’t angry but he wasn’t happy either.
“Help Mr Bako. I think the word you’re looking for is Help. Your hotel has been running at a loss for over a year now, Fowler Incorporation is just stepping in to help” Jaiye said gently, “please let us”.
Nene watched him with interest, the suit he was wearing earlier had been ditched and his sleeves were rolled up now. He was beautiful to look at and she could gaze at him all day, she imagined unbuttoning the shirt all by herself, with no help whatsoever from him.
She heard Mazi laugh and then she looked at Mr Bako, the latter was laughing too. Jaiye had said something funny and the whole room had erupted with laughter. Whatever they were doing, Nene knew they did it very well.
When the meeting was over they shook hands and greeted Nene. Jaiye and Mazi shook hands when they were left alone.
“Jaiyejaiye! We go celebrate this one o!” He said and Jaiye nodded. Nene studied him, she couldn’t tell if he was excited or not, unlike Mazi he wasn’t grinning like a child who just got his favourite candy. He just stood there, both hands in his pockets while he looked gorgeous.
Her heart raced even as she stared at him now, if situations were different and if they weren’t so far apart in separate worlds, this would have been the type of man she would like to have a romantic relationship with. She just wanted to know him, see beyond what the whole world saw, be intimate with him.
“Thanks Nene” Mazi said as he shook hands with her, “you don’t even work here and you handled everything well.”
“You’re welcome” Nene replied
“Here’s something to buy a drink with.” Mazi said and handed her five thousand naira. Nene almost knelt down. She was overwhelmed, that was the amount some men gave her for having sex for two nights at a stretch. Was this what it felt like to be close to a Fowler or someone working with/for them?
Mazi winked at her, “I could buy you the drink thought, if you don’t mind?”
Jaiye watched his friend and colleague flirt with Nene, he viewed her reaction with keen interest, wanting to know what she would say.
He heard her say. He knew what the night was going to be like. Mazi would take her to some exquisite restaurant to eat some fanciful dinner she’d never eaten and couldn’t afford, then he would take her to his penthouse and screw the living daylight out of her. It was Mazi’s style, it was what he had done to many unsuspecting fine young women. But Jaiye wouldn’t let him do it to this one. Not because it was his business but because he felt responsible for Nene at the moment.
“Back off Mazi, Nene and I already have plans” Jaiye said coolly.
He watched Nene’s confused expression and Mazi’s disappointed look. He almost laughed.
“We have an appointment that we haven’t caught up with, isn’t that right Nene?”
Nene nodded. She was such an idiot sometimes, she had almost allowed Mazi’s invite to dinner erase the real reason she was at the office.
“So Mazi you would have to reschedule” he said and Mazi hit him playfully.
“Asshole” Mazi said and Jaiye laughed.
From the breathtaking office to a trip down to the Fowler hotels, Nene’s day was certainly the best she had experienced in a long time.
Jaiye had brought her to one of the luxurious Fowler hotels on the Island and they were sitting in what seemed to have been a reserved spot for two. She didn’t expect anything less to be honest, the man owned and controlled the place, they probably reserved spaces for him and his family daily.
She slowly drank in the detail of the environment, their spot overlooked the sea which looked so calm and serene at this time of the night, the waves gently danced in the glow of the moonlight and the beauty of the sea was enthralling, for her it was the best view she had ever had of the water. She had visited the beach many times but now sitting in a hotel which overlooked it at night, it looked different, looked beautiful.
“Do you like it?” Jaiye asked her, he watched her intently as she took her time to enjoy her environment. He could tell that she was taken in by it.
She nodded, “its very beautiful” she said gently.
“That’s why I like this spot, I like to look at the beauty of the sea at night especially.”
Nene wondered if he ate dinner there everynight just to overlook the sea from that particular spot. She looked around her for the thousandth time that night, “and this place too, it is very beautiful”
“Thank you.” Jaiye said and smiled. “I take it that you’ve never visited any Fowler hotel?”
She shook her head. She had never had the pleasure of such luxury.
“I would take you around after dinner if that’s fine” he offered and Nene nodded. “Thank you for today Nene. You were of immense help”
“Its okay, you needed help and I was free. I hope you would reconsider and give me another time for the appointment though?” She asked him and it was his turn to nod in agreement.
“What do you mean by that Kanu? That package was worth five million naira!” Chief Koko was boiling with rage, he couldn’t believe his ears. He sat up in bed and Mercy was almost thrown off the massive bed as he rolled his heavy body out of it. “Kanu you told me those people were smart! What do we do now?!”
Chief Koko had once been the governor of a state and during his tenure, he had embellished funds, mismanaged money allocated to the state and like most of his colleagues, he had stashed money in many foreign countries.
The EFCC had arrested him shortly after he left office and they had stripped him of almost everything he had, now all he had going for him was the little he had in some hidden bank accounts outside the country and money from smuggling cocaine.
Cocaine that he got people to “swallow” and “shit out” when they got to their destination, cocaine that five people who had swallowed had now been arrested with in the UK.
He told Kanu now, “arrange to have them silenced Kanu, I don’t want to hear about this again.”
“Okay Chief. Meanwhile, we still need to have this thing over there o. We need more people before the end of this week.” Kanu said from the other end.
Chief Koko was getting frustrated, where was he supposed to get another extra soul to swallow cocaine and travel to the UK for him? It used to be easier but these days, things were getting harder.
“Kanu, where do you want me to get someone to smuggle drugs into the UK at this point? We don’t have time”
Mercy sat up and watched Chief Koko anxiously, the latter hissed and threw his phone on the bed in anger.
“Chief” She called. “I can do it” she added.
Thanks for the responses via here and other social media platforms guys, I appreciate. You can reach me on twitter through my handle @Tomilola_coco or my email Tomilolaadeyemo@gmail.com *kisses*