By Tomi Adesina
I drummed on Jacob’s door. The sound from his woofer blasted loudly. ‘I doubt if Jake would hear’ I thought. I drummed on it again, this time harder than before.
“Easy” Jake said, as he opened the door. He stared at me. “Why the look?” he asked.
I wasn’t here to tell Jake about Dare and I. “The server is down at my place and I need to Skype.”
“Liar! Sir Williams has a routed network, why are you really here?” he asked, standing in the doorway.
I smirked. “Who’s in there?” I asked, trying to peer underneath his arm.
“No one. I am planning for Dora’s party.” He replied, folding his arms. “Also, I don’t think it’s good for you to have an idea of what I am planning.”
I pushed him out of the way. “This is no wedding.” I strolled into his living room and stared at a familiar face. “Jane?” I asked with a smile.
“Williams!” she said, and rushed to me. We hugged tightly. We hadn’t seen each other in a very long time.
Jake came in brushing his chin “D, you actually hurt my chin.”
“Come off it Jake, you are a baby.” Jane said. “Tell me about Dora, Darlene.” She said, excitedly.
I raised my eyebrow and stared at Jake. “What did this ‘chatter box’ tell you?” I asked.
“Nothing yet.” She said, pushing the telephone away. “This place is a mess; we were calling some event parlours.” She added. Jake didn’t lie about the preparation for Dora’s coming out event.
‘My manners!’ “When did you get back from Pretoria?” I asked.
“This morning.” She replied with a knowing smile.
Jane worked in her father’s companies. She shuttled from all over the shores while her idle twin, Jake partied round the shores. She spent more of her time in South Africa, her boyfriend is South African, at least that’s the last I knew of them.
“When are you going back? I know you will miss being away from Jason.”
She laughed. “Jason got married last week. The dude is actually bisexual. I had to give him up.” She said, fetching her phone. “Here are photos from the wedding.”
“Are you nuts?” I shouted, staring at the phone. “You had the nerve to take pictures with them; you are a wonder, Jane!”
She shrugged. “Jason was bisexual! That’s something I hadn’t seen before, a record! Sleeping with a bisexual!”
“Just shut up Jane, your story is pathetic! You should see the Doctor and then Pastor Ben for cleansing.” Jake said, handing me a can of Fayrouz.
We all laughed.
“I hear Pastor Ben is now heading the church, I miss that man.” Jane said, opening her drink.
Jake stared at me. “What brings you here anyways?” he asked.
“Can’t a girl see her friend anymore?” I asked, sipping the drink. I choked slightly.
He cleared his throat. “Sorry.” He turned down the music player.
“Some sanity at last! We have been spared of M.I!” I said.
Jane nodded in agreement. “I told him to play Adele, but he said she is as pathetic as my relationship with Jason.”
I stared at Jake in disbelief. “You are unfair.”
Jane’s phone rang and she left for her room.
“Thanks Jake.” I said.
He smiled. “What are you thanking me for?”
“Dora’s party. You really are working.” I replied, staring at the list he made. He had already checked seven of the ten on the list.
He winked. “Anything for you.” He replied. “I’ll just get my laptop.” He added, and left for his room.
I touched my lips. It reminded me of the first time Jake had to kill for me. I was so frightened back then in summer camp. I was only fifteen. I was in stables admiring the newly born horses when I heard some noises, I tried to hide from the sound because I couldn’t see who or what was making the noise. I then saw movements on the hay. I screamed.
Jake rushed into the stables when heard me scream. “What is it, Darlene?”
“SSsssnnakke!” I managed to say trembling.
His eyeballs widened and he reached for the door.
“Don’t leave me here.” I begged in tears.
He gestured to a stick at the door and held it firmly. My heart raced quickly as the snake approached me. “I’ll never come for summer camp again if I survive this.” I said to myself.
Jake struck the snake in the head. He held the stick firmly in the snake’s head and I watched in terror, as it wriggled hard for survival. I feared that the snake might turn towards Jake as the snake seemed to be gathering some strength.
“Run out of here now!” Jake ordered.
I ran towards the door, but I couldn’t leave Jake alone. “I am not leaving you here.”
“Get out!” he shouted. By then the noise had attracted some other campers and the horsemen around joined us in the stable. A bullet was enough to sink the snake dead. I rushed to Jake and hugged him tightly.
“Thank you.” I whispered softly. Our heads were locked and we came close to an unexpected kiss, I couldn’t remember who initiated it, but all I could remember is that Jake’s girlfriend came in.
“My hero!” she said, as she hugged him.
‘My hero?’ I thought. I should have been the one saying that. I snapped out of my thoughts, maybe Jake truly owned my first kiss, if I was to give it, but now Dare got it.
“Here you go.” He said, handing me his laptop.
I left for the kitchen with the laptop. I wanted privacy with Sameer. Sameer and I spoke for about two hours before I decided to retire home.
“Let me drop you off.” Jake offered, wearing a shirt.
I smiled. “Never mind, I’ll be fine. The day is still young.” I replied, checking my watch.
“Ya…right! This is 8pm. I will be fine when I know you are home.” He said, leading me to his car.
I nodded. “Thanks. Is Jane returning to Pretoria anytime soon? I’d like to invite her for Dora’s coming-out.” I said, drawing the seat belt across my chest.
“I don’t think she’ll be returning to Pretoria. She’s devastated from her break up with Jason; she has just been putting up a façade since she returned.”
I sighed. “It’s pretty disgusting to have a bisexual as a boyfriend.” I said.
Jake laughed. “What do you know? You don’t even have a boyfriend.”
“I used to have.” I replied, rolling my eyes.
He nodded. “But not anymore, anyways, I think Jane will be joining my parents in Canada next month.”
“Is she running away?”
He smiled. “Not really, but she wants to take a break from work before she resumes to the new company at Dubai.”
“JAKE!!!” I screamed.
He swerved off the road and screeched the tyres so hard. “What!” he asked frightened.
I managed a soft chuckle. “I didn’t mean to scare you, but I am surprised that your sister is the one doing all the family’s job, while you are so idle.”
“I hate work. I don’t like someone yelling at me in the office like Dare does to you.”
I wore a frown. “Okay, I know he has changed, but he really used to frustrate you then and I don’t want anyone doing that, and if you work with my Dad for a while, you’ll understand how annoying he can be on the job.”
“Jake, soon you’ll be a family man, and you will need to provide for your household, how will you do that? I want you to know that soon your dad will be tired of giving you money and then with the recent happenings in the stock market, you will be broke. Who are you gonna run to when that happens? Jane?”
He laughed. “You!”
I sighed. “Does everything have to be a joke with you?”
He nodded and stuck his tongue out as he drove on.
“Thanks for the ride, Jacob.” I said, as he pulled up.
He cleared his throat. “D…erm, good night.”
“What is it Jake?” I asked.
He shook his head. “Nothing, do you have anything to tell me?” he asked.
“Of course not.” I replied and stepped out of the car. “Thanks Jake.”
He nodded and started his car.
“Good evening Dad.” I said, as I climbed the stairs.
He sipped his drink soberly and didn’t reply. James Blunt’s ‘Cry’ pulsed slowly from his CD player. “Don’t take on Subomi.” He said quietly, and wiped a tear from his face.
“I’ll beat him Dad.” I replied softly and left.
I tapped on Dora’s door. She opened almost immediately.
“Hi dear.” She said, closing the door after me.
I sank into the chair. “I kissed Dare.”
“Whoa!” she said grinning. “Was it good?” she asked.
I sighed. “Do I sound like I am proud of it?” I asked.
“You don’t exactly have to sound proud of it to be proud of it.” She replied, applying her facial mask. She stared at me and then sighed. “Come on Darlene, it’s not like this is your first kiss.” She said and then paused. “Or not?” Since I didn’t reply, she could guess. “I can’t believe this! So you just had your first kiss in 24 years, whoa!!!” she laughed. “Seriously, how did it feel?”
I shook my head in disbelief. “Dora, this hurts more than you can imagine.”
“You must be right, because, I don’t understand where the hurt is coming from. To be honest, I always knew that Dare is going to be the next man in your life.” She replied, dancing round the room.
I shook my head in disagreement. “It was an accident.” I replied.
“Yeah yeah…honey, it’s Dare for you!” she said laughing.
I smiled. “I’ll be in my room,” I said, grabbing my bag.
“Come on… I’ll be serious from now. Let’s talk about it, or you could just cry on my shoulder.” She said with a smile.
Dora smiled waiting for me to start. “How did it happen?”
“It happened so fast. We were struggling for his phone and then, I guess you can imagine the rest.”
Dora sighed. “If it’s what I am thinking, I would say he always had the intention, you are totally kissable.” She said. I smiled faintly. “Dare likes you, but I think he has an aggressive or maybe let me say, an arrogant way of loving.”
“Maybe I’ll disagree with you on that, you don’t know him.”
She nodded. “I am speculating. But, I can’t be wrong.”
“How do I handle this?”
She laughed. “Treat it as though it never happened. I know you can do it, all you have to do is show that you are stronger than it, it might be difficult, but you have to, else you are completely his.”
“It’s going to be difficult. I am going to see this guy every day.”
She nodded. “Of course, many secretaries sleep with their bosses, yet they still act as though everything were normal, this is just a kiss.”
“Not just a kiss for me, it is my first!” I said through my teeth.
Dora sighed and slipped into her bathrobe. “You claim that it was just an accident, so why is going to be difficult? Honey, you can handle this, I know you have the strength.”
Dora’s speech for the first time was largely uninspiring. “Thanks, but you are so unhelpful tonight.” I said, standing up.
“You are welcome.”
I sank into my bed. A new chapter in my life had just been opened. A high class court case around the corner and my kiss with Dare set me off into thoughts. Flashes from the kiss with Dare strayed into my thoughts as I tried to go through my books for the pending court case. If I was to put the incident with Dare behind me, I had to start from somewhere, and at the moment, preparing for my first court session seemed to be a great idea.
I rushed to join the 6am bus. You don’t want to dare Lagos city traffic. I had slowly relieved Jake of his chauffeur duties, and I seem to be doing fine joining buses and tunneling the stations with Daniel on his way to solitary in Abuja. He was also going to join a reformatory class there. Dad had arranged his movement to Abuja.
“Good morning.” I said with a smile to the security officers as I walked into the firm. I had a special smile for everyone at Ade-Cole. I greeted some with a ‘fake smile’, technically, it’s not ‘fake’, but what do you call flashing your teeth at the fifty year old counsellorat the firm? She needed the fake smile as she was always talking about everybody to somebody.
“Did you sleep well, Darlene?” Mrs. Abu asked as I headed for the elevator.
I nodded in the affirmative. “Yes ma’am.”
“Honey,” she started, stopping me from punching the elevator button. “Toni will be off duty for the rest of the week, you heard about what happened last night?”
I smirked. “Not at all.” I was about to be let in on some juicy information by Mrs. Abu.
“Oh well, you know I am not one to talk too much about people’s private matters, but when I hear something that is of priority and it needs to be told, I do my job.” She started. ‘Counselling, I suppose.’ I said to myself.
She adjusted her glasses and continued. “It so happened last night that…Oh my God, I am not sure that I should be letting you in on this information.” She said, with a grin.
“Oh come on Mrs. Abu, if it really is important and it concerns Toni, you should just say.” I replied reaching for the elevator.
She sighed. “Honey, how do I start? Okay…the thing is that Toni felt ill yesterday and Dare told her to see the doctor.”
I drew a dry hiss and punched the elevator door hard. “Thanks.” I said, not without a frown.
I bumped into Dare as soon as I stepped out of the elevator. My heart skipped a beat. “Good morning.” I said.
He smiled without saying a word and stepped into the elevator. ‘Exactly the Dare I know!’
“Good morning Bola.” I said, approaching my office door
She stood up courteously. “Good morning Darlene. You have a meeting with the board of directors later this afternoon.” She said, handing me an envelope.
“What’s the subject?” I asked, collecting the envelope.
She glanced through her file. “The case against Chidi Obi”
The case against Chidi Obi seemed to be gathering momentum. The ‘Masses Advocate’ a popular daily journal read, “CAN DARLENE WILLIAMS LAND CHIDI OBI BEHIND BARS?” I inhaled deeply and went through the article. It had news on my personal record from law school at Harvard, but it was nothing compared to Subomi Bankole’s gigantic profile which had several conquests in them. My father’s loss to Subomi Bankole was mentioned in the concluding paragraph and I could bet a million that it would break my father’s heart if he saw that journal. I stashed it away in my cabinet and fetched my laptop.
I fetched my phone and dialed Toni but the answering machine answered it. Toni couldn’t come to the phone; I dropped a get well soon’ wish for her and promised to call in the evening. I dropped my phone on the table and turned on my laptop. Just then, my phone buzzed, It wasn’t Toni returning the call, it was Jake calling.
“Hi babes. I got news for you, I am going over to you house with some guys to start the decorations for Dora’s event.”
I smiled. “Thanks a lot Jake.”
“Never mind.” He replied, and hung up.
I designed a ‘get well soon’ card on my laptop and sent it to Toni’s email. I had acquired Photoshop skills from my days at high school when it was made a compulsory course for us. I took the course serious and it has become an advantage to me.
Toni replied my mail almost immediately with the address to her house. I anticipated lunch time as the meeting with the board was fixed for noon.
“I hear you are challenging Subomi Bankole, how are you preparing for it?” Femi Ade-Cole asked.
The board room was filled with the top officials except for Ayo Ade-Cole; Femi Ade-Cole had taken the stand-in position for his brother pending the time of his arrival. Femi Ade-Cole didn’t give me much room to breathe when we first met. He stared at me from an acute angle. “Relax kid.” He said, trying to ease my nervousness.
“I am coming along well; it’s a matter of time before I take on Subomi.”
He smiled. “How do you fancy your chances?”
“That’s a tough one to answer.” I replied with a smile. Dare shifted in his seat and I guess he felt uneasy with my response.
Dare scoffed. “Make it easy for us Ms. Williams, there is a firm fee of six million, and a personal fee of four million if you win, so I hope you know that there is a lot at stake.” He said carelessly.
I stared at him with a bit of fury in my eyes. ‘Business or Personal?’ I thought. “Do you have a problem with my response, Mr. Ade-Cole?”
“Of course not.” He replied, straightening his jacket. “I am only concerned about the lethargy shown towards this case from your end.” he added.
I shot my eyes in fury. “Where is this coming from Mr. Ade-Cole?”
“Save the attitude, Dare. Money comes second here!” Femi Ade-Cole added.
I stared at the other board members and smiled. “I am a professional, this might be my first case, but I will not be bossed by anyone here.”
“Ms. Williams, I understand your frustration,” Mr. Femi started. “If I will have two-third votes, I will like Dare Ade-Cole to excuse us for the rest of the meeting.”
Dare stared at his uncle. “Are you throwing me out of the meeting?”
“Two-third votes, and Dare leaves” he re-affirmed.
It wasn’t difficult to get the votes. Dare grabbed his file and stepped out.
“Now Ms. Williams, I know you are good, but I want you to know that Bankole has been in this game forever, he will be hoping to take advantage of your first, so I hope you won’t crack.”
I nodded my head. “I will try my best.”
“That’s all that’s needed from you at this stage, but you have to understand that Tunji Davis trusts you to recover his oil rig from Chidi Obi, and we all are banking on you to put one of the city’s worst crooks behind bars.”
The board room was filled a lot of hopefuls and it seemed as though hopes hinged on my beating Subomi Bankole.
…to be continued