I leaned against the stairs as I walked upstairs. One of the maids halted as she was pulling a bag down the stairs. “What is this?” I asked, looking at the bag.
“It is for Ms. Dora Williams. She asked me to take it to the cab.”
I eyed the bag and continued up to my room. I met Dora in the hall way upstairs. “Where is it that you are going to?” I asked with sarcasm in my tone. She clutched her pouch to her neck. “Or are you going with Dad to the Bahamas? You really want my life, don’t you?”
She sighed and shook her head. Dora looked sad. “Darlene, I came to this house with so much admiration for you.” here we go again with the reverse psychology, get to the point! “But, like they say, things change. I don’t know how much of you I admire anymore, maybe just your decisiveness. And that, I don’t think you have anymore because if you did you would know who you are in love with.”
YOU KNOW HOW SUCH STATEMENTS END; I HIT HER WITH A THUNDEROUS SLAP! “Are you by any chance out of your mind?” I asked. My eyes were burning hot now. “You are shameless enough to be jumping around Jake when you have a boyfriend and here you are preaching to me about not knowing who I love. What has love got to do with this?” I shouted.
“Everything, Darlene. EVERYTHING! Darlene, you are burning in jealousy and pride because Jake prefers me to you.” She stopped to caress her cheek. “Never hit me again!”
It was as though a bell had hit my head, and it was still resounding from the reverberation. “Dora, wake up and smell the coffee. I have been with Jake forever; he could never choose you over me!” I was talking defensive.
“You sound so confident. I would be sending you a wedding Invite soon.”
I swallowed HARD. My eyes blinked carelessly as I tried to place Dora’s statement. “Is that a threat?” I asked.
“Why would I threaten you, big sister? You are in real denial of who you truly love, Darlene and this is making you see the evil in everyone, and I care about you a lot.”
“Dora, you are selfish. You just want everything that I have and own. Well you have it all now, Get out of here.”
She smiled with one of the worst defiance I had ever seen. “Darlene, back to your initial question, I am leaving this house for a while, I need to understand what family means again. I love you, Darlene and I wish you the best against Subomi.” She then moved aside carefully with her bag and left.
I watched her as she walked away, I couldn’t say a word to her. I sighed and turned around to see Dad. He had a muffler wrapped around his neck. He was wearing a jean and a polo white shirt. “My flight is tomorrow morning.”
I sighed and stepped out of his way. “Safe journey.”
He held my hand back. “For a moment Darlene, I had thought that we were connecting again yesterday and that I could tell you a deep secret, but now I really don’t know.”
I rolled my eyes. “Dad, keep your secret. Sooner or later we will all know. After all, I found out about Dora. This won’t be an exception.” I said and left for my room. Where could be Dora be going? Could she be travelling with Dad to the Bahamas? OR WAS SHE GOING TO JAKES??? I hurried to my phone and then paused. I was restrained with the thought that I might be stirring up enough things in Jacob’s heart.
I would take a nap. It’s so necessary. Dare still hasn’t called.
I rolled over my sheets and turned on the wireless route. I would have a Skype chat with Sameer. It is important to check the welfare of your witness.
He smiled as he adjusted himself before the web cam. “Ms. Williams, are you having a good evening?”
I smiled. “Yes, it is fine. Where did Dare go to?”
“He told us that he had something important to attend to.”
I nodded with the typical look of ‘whatever he had to do could wait’ “So how are you doing?”
“I am doing okay. I can’t wait for tomorrow. I will be happy to see the end of Obi.”
I sighed. I wanted Sameer to go back to his family as soon as possible. “Get some sleep, Sameer. Tomorrow means War.”
I checked the usual the popular lawyers’ website to check what was going on.
“SUBOMI BANKOLE SALUTES DARLENE WILLIAMS COURAGE.” I read aloud and then went to the commentary.
The punch line in the commentary was Subomi saying… ‘I think Darlene Williams is good, at least, my baby girl Jumoke used to cry because of her during their high school days, but law is more than school debates. Court rooms are bigger than class rooms, and definitely Subomi is bigger than Darlene Williams!”
I read the punch line over and over again. It was dampening. There was this heat rushing through my body. I turned on the A.C; it was getting hotter and hotter. I rushed into the shower in my clothes and sat in the tub.
I ran the water open and started to rehearse. The conditions for my rehearsal to any sane lawyer was harsh, but when you are already written off before you step into the court room, you might want to hype yourself in any appealing manner.
I hurried out of the bath. I was wet from head to toe yet I didn’t mind and I sloppily opened the door. “What do you want? You should be long gone.” I said, returning into the room.
“I can’t leave you alone. You have a court case tomorrow, you need family.”
I smiled. “Isn’t that what you said you were going after?” I asked, staring at Dora.
“I couldn’t leave.”
She handed me a towel. “Do you still care about me?”
I collected the towel and wrapped it around me. “No.”
“Then I’ll leave.” She replied and left for the door. “You may not see me again.”
I smiled. “It’s about time.”
She nodded and opened the door. “Bye Darlene. I hope you win.” She then left.
“WHY DID YOU COME BACK?” I yelled!
I dried my body and had a change of clothes. I then left for the kitchen. Food was of the essence. I had starved myself and it was beginning to wear me out. I settled for some noodles. After a while, I dialed Dare’s phone to no avail. I got the traditional, ‘NO ANSWER’ response. Dare wasn’t answering his phone. I was in no mood to drop any message for him so I didn’t go to the answering machine.
As I ate my dinner, I read the papers and soothed myself to a hot mug of chocolate. All the papers were with the same story, ‘Subomi versus Darlene Williams’. I got tired of the same thing and left for my room.
I plugged my I-pod into my ears and started playing some country music. I needed to talk to someone. I resulted to my Skype contacts. Even though Jake was offline I wasn’t sure I would have called him, I tried to put a call through to Toni but she was also offline.
I tried to sleep but it was almost impossible.
I was taken aback by my first court case in Law school. I didn’t sleep all through the night. I was nervous. My colleagues then used to say that ‘I was obsessed with successes but I wouldn’t have it the other way. Losing was never an option. I knew people who lived by the philosophy but still couldn’t point out to success. I wasn’t lucky, I was blessed. I had spent hours reading all night and then Jake was with me all through that night.
“I know you will win this case.” he had said.
I smiled as I closed one of the text books. “Jake, it’s my first.”
He shrugged. “With you, it just comes.” he stretched out on my bed. Jake came around often, we were inseparable.
“Jake, I am sleepy.”
He smiled. “Then sleep.” He replied, yawning.
“I don’t want to. I want to round off this section…” I rattled about how important it was for me to master the composure.
He left the room and returned with a mug of hot chocolate. “This should keep you awake.” He said.
I snapped out of my thoughts as I caressed my mug of hot chocolate. There is no Jake here today and I have to fight it through this night. Wednesday had arrived now and I knew it was time for me to confront Subomi. It might still be the early hours of Wednesday, but it was still Wednesday and I could bet that Subomi was having a time of his life after he had made me look weak in the press through his mind games.
A message popped up on my phone. It was from Jake. I opened it and it read:
“Darlene, I don’t know how the road before you is,
But I am sure that you are coming out top in the end.
Love, Jake x”
I read the message for the 2nd time and then replied. “Thanks!”
I heard noise from downstairs so I went down to check, but not without a base ball stick.
“Hi Darlene.” Dad said, sloppily. He was tipsy-drunk.
I shook my head. “Are you feeling convicted and now you have taken to drinking?” I asked, collecting the bottle of vodka. He snarled. I placed the bottle carefully on the side table and helped him to a chair. The maids instantly took their leave.
He grunted a bit. I was irritated by the sound. “Dad!”
“Whattttttttttt?” he asked, turning on the television.
I relaxed in my seat.
“It’s in the news. It’s on the internet. Everyone is talking about you, Darlene.”
I rolled my eyes. “Dad, it’s expected. I know what’s coming.”
He scoffed. “You have no idea yet.” He dragged himself into an upright position. “The case is against Subomi Bankole. Not his daughter!”
I hissed dryly. “The alcohol is really something, Dad. Am I ignorant that I am up against Subomi?” I paused a bit. “Is that why you are running away?”
“I have urgent matters to attend to.”
I charged at him. “It could wait, DAD!” I scoffed. “This is my first case and you are not even going to be around to witness it. How fair is that?”
“I warned you.”
I nodded. “I agree! But I want your support. You are the only family I have got!”
“You sent Dora away.”
I scoffed. “Here we go again! I knew you before Dora.”
“That’s no explanation for hurting Dora I warned you to sort things out with Jacob, you let it get out of hands and you want Dora to share in the blame, that’s unfair.”
I smiled. “What does Sir Kunle Williams know about being fair?”
He shook his head. “Darlene Williams, I want to take some blame in making you grow up too fast, but it’s your life, rescue it!” he said, sloppily.
“Cheers Dad. I chose this life.” I said and left for my room.
Dad might have thickened me right from my cradle. I used to frequent Soldier’s camps. Dad had lot of friends in the force. So we practically hung out together all the time whilst I grew up. I spent most of my holidays living like a Soldier. I had troop hang outs from a tender age. I was the youngest in my class, my dad was dissuaded from putting me there, but he refused and through influence I had plenty of experience with the soldiers.
Dad might also be right about me needing to rescue my life. Perhaps, that’s why I had Jake, but I had practically kicked him away. The next stop for me had to be the internet, sleep was impossible. Nervousness had taken over and my saving grace might be the social networks-twitter, preferably.
I had good will messages on my TimeLine. People really wanted to see Subomi fail, but at the moment, I feel I am not the right person to take him down.
Sleep did come and it took me unawares. I jumped out of bed and hurried into the bathroom. My alarm had been on since 5am, but I didn’t respond to it. ‘Traffic…BRT bus…Standing….Subomi…Oh God!’ My thoughts were disoriented as I had my bath. I spent roughly 15 minutes in the bathroom and then rushed to my mirror. I rubbed my body elegantly with my lotion; I then sprayed my most expensive cologne. I was ‘enchanting’ myself. I had a new dress for today. I brushed my hair backward. I slipped into my shoes and clutched my laptop bag to my hand. I stood before my Giant Mirror elegantly and stared at myself from head to toe.
“Ready…Set…Go!” I said, as I took a quick glance at my wrist watch. “6:35AM”
I hurried downstairs and headed for the kitchen. Dad was having himself a glass of wine. “Good morning, Dad.” I said, pecking him and picking up an apple.
“Good morning, Darlene.” he replied and swirled he chair towards me. “You look beautiful.”
I took the time to stare at me again. “Thank you Dad.” He was all suited up and a muffler dangled around his neck.
“I want you to know that I love you, and I wish you the best in this case. You are special, Darlene.”
I smiled faintly. “Thank you Dad.” I crossed my fingers. “I wish you could come, but I know you have important matters to attend to.” I blinked carefully and pursed my lips for some air.
He nodded. “I would follow the case.” Was that meant to comfort me? Even the retarded ones would follow the case. This is a chance for Chidi Obi to be damned. Who wouldn’t follow?
“Dad, safe journey. I would see you later.”
He grabbed his keys. “Let me drop you off.” He offered.
“Never mind, Dad. You have a flight to catch.”
He smiled. “The Firm is on the road to the Airport. Don’t be stubborn. You shouldn’t be caught in a Mass Transit today.” He smiled leading the way.
“Darlene, I am running away from your court case.” Dad said, as he drove out of the Estate.
I nodded with the ‘who are you trying to convince’ look. “I understand. You have been saying this forever.”
“I just want you to believe me. This matter is very urgent and it has to be resolved. If it comes out unresolved, I am finished.”
I smiled. “You are always in trouble, Dad. Must you always have secrets?”
“Everyone has their secrets. It’s just that I have made too many mistakes in my life and I need to sort them out.”
I nodded. “We all need to sort ourselves out. So are you going to Bahamas to sort it out or to run away from it?”
“I am going to sort it. It’s about time.”
The next minutes was quiet as Dad played ‘Call your name’ by Daughtry. Dad also had a similar taste in music. The music was sober and I anticipated getting off the car. Dad pulled up in front of the Firm and took a deep breath.
“Darlene Williams, no matter what happens, I am proud to be your father.” He said, and kissed me on the forehead.
I watched Dad drive off and then walked into the Firm. Lawyers stood in clusters. Some smiled at me while others whispered. It was obvious that they were discussing about today’s later showdown.
‘I hear she is 24…I have been in this Firm for 15 years and I have not been giving the opportunity to represent Ade-Cole Firm in any high profile case,’ ‘She must be sleeping with Dare Ade-Cole to get her hands on Chidi Obi’s case…she will definitely lose’ ‘I think she has got courage…but I am afraid for her, even Kunle Williams couldn’t beat Subomi. He is a tiger in the ring!’ ‘I am afraid that she will have a low self esteem after this case…poor girl’ ‘Something tells me she will win’
I had heard enough! The lobby was busy with my name filtering from mouth to mouth! Even people from my own Firm doubted me. I had the urge to run into the elevator but it was busy, so I headed for the stairs.
“Good morning, Darlene.” “All the best, Ms. Williams.” I was greeted as I tried making my way to the top floor.
Bola greeted me with a smile as I got to the top floor. “Good morning, Ms. Williams.”
“Darlene…” I corrected with a smile. “God morning, Bola.”
She collected my bag and took it into my office. “Here are your mails.” She said dropping a bundle of envelopes on my desk. “You have had calls from four newspaper houses and two Television stations. They want you for interviews. I told them that I will get back to them at noon.”
I smiled. “Thank you.” I had not even been to court yet and they want interviews. Press and their snooping around!!! I checked the mails. Half of the mails were to wish me ‘Success’ in the case. Interestingly, Bobby had sent me a mail too. “That boy…” I said and sank into my chair.
“Knock knock.” Toni said as she entered.
I smiled. At least, she would take away my fears. “Good morning, Toni.”
“You are beautiful.”
I smiled faintly. “Thank you.” I rose to hug her. “I am scared.”
“You will be fine.”
We took our seats. “Dare still hasn’t called me.” I said. She shrugged. “I tried his cell but he isn’t answering. Do you think he is fine?”
She shrugged. “I think Dare is fine.”
“Are you hiding something?” I asked, probing Toni. “Or is he back with Reina?”
Toni sighed. “Don’t be so paranoid. Dare had something very important to deal with.”
Everybody had something important to deal with, especially on a Day like this. “I understand.”
Toni strode into the office. “Do you want to grab lunch before we leave for City Hall?”
I stared at my phone. “Dare hasn’t called.”
“Oh boy…is that the question I asked?” she hissed dryly and took her seat. “Dare couldn’t have called yet. He is still attending to serious matters.”
I nodded. “Would you drive me to City Hall?”
She rolled her eyes. “Of course Darlene, moreover it’s not like I have a choice here.” She winked at me. “Let’s get you something to eat, honey.” She said, taking my hand.
Bola rose to her feet as soon as we stepped out of my office. “Ma’am…There’s been a call from the Court to re-inform you.”
“Subomi could forget he has a case because he is a pro…but this rookie here is as anxious as ever.” Toni blurted.
I stared at her. “Thank you, Bola.” I pinched Toni. “Shall we?”
“Yes of course, my lady.”
We had our lunch at a snacks shop just few blocks away from the Firm. I wasn’t in the mood for heavy food. “I would have a Sausage please…” I said. “And a can of Fayrouz.”
Toni smiled proudly as she was about to order. “A double-decker club sandwich, please.” She paused and smiled. “A diet coke too…I won’t like to add to my weight.”
I chuckled. What did Toni think a Diet Coke would do for her?
CITY HALL (venue for the court case) (2:30PM)
Toni pulled up and turned off the stereo. “These rats…they are everywhere.” She said, taking a swipe at the Press Men and Women who were lurking around. I sighed and bowed my head. She rubbed my back. “Its okay, Honey. You see, I would have killed to have these people follow me around on my first case, I’ll say you are lucky.”
“This isn’t funny.” I said, looking through the mirror. The Pressmen were teeming in numbers and some pointed to Toni’s Range Rover. “I think they are coming.”
I slid down in my seat and ensured the doors were locked. “Can these people just get away?”
Toni laughed. “I think it’s cool. You just have to be yourself and don’t say anything that you don’t want to. It would be worse once you step out of the court room.” She sighed. “I think you should just soak it up.”
I sat up. “The case doesn’t start until 4pm. What do we do to avoid these ‘rats’?”
She started the engine. “We would drive to Shoprite, it’s just a block away but be careful not to pick a teddy else the headlines would be that, ‘Darlene Williams picks out a teddy to hug at night as she loses to Subomi.’ We both laughed.
“You are beginning to sound like Dora when she first arrived at our home. She was everything called ‘funny’. She made my life ‘spontaneous.’”
Toni nodded. “Sweet talk about your sister, you should just hug her when you get home.”
“She already left.”
Toni sighed and drove. “You must have frustrated that little girl. Do you think she has a connection with Jake?”
“Yes. I think she is in love with him and I feel he likes her too.”
Toni smiled. “What did you expect, Darlene? You struck the match; you are bound to feel the flame.”
“I didn’t push her to Jake.” I retorted, defensively.
She nodded and pulled up at Shoprite. “But you pushed Jake to her.” She turned off the engine. “Hurry and meet me here by 3:15pm.”
I stepped out of the car and hurried into the mall. I didn’t know what to buy, but I had to occupy myself, I was nervous. After few minutes of walking round, I bought myself a Digital Camera I didn’t need.
“3:15PM…SPOT ON! Shall we?” I asked as I joined Toni in the car.
She started the engine. “Okay…my sources report that Tunji Davis just got to the court house, and Chidi Obi is also present. We all await Subomi.”
Toni hurried back to the City Hall
“Here we are…” she said.
I took a deep breath and stepped out of the car. Yes…the ‘rats’ rushed at me.
“Ms. Williams, this is your first case, how are you going to handle it? “You are up against a veteran, it’s no child’s play, are you confident? Can you tell us how you fancy your chances?” the questions poured in as I tried to make my way through them into the Court room.
Toni rescued me. “No comments…no comments….no comments….” She dragged me by the arm into the court room. Some sanity, at last!
There was an uproar and running around followed. Toni and I stood up and rushed towards the window. Toni sighed. “Subomi Bankole arrives.”
Darlene Williams, are you ready?