READ Special Christmas Story – Christmas Fowl Business
By Adeola Nissi
A waitress arrived to serve their meal and Amara watched unconcerned as she blatantly flirted with Maxwell, who basked in the glory of the attention. Amara averted her gaze, focusing on the enticing fried rice, salad and chicken placed before her but although the delicious aroma was making her mouth water, she frowned at the food. Maxwell hadn’t even asked her what she wanted; he had obviously placed the order before her arrival. She raised her eyes as the waitress saunted away, swaying her hips provocatively. “And if I don’t like salad?” she asked, staring at Maxwell.
“I have not seen a single lady who does not like this delicacy before you” he stated.
“I see you have enough experience in this aspect” she retorted.
He grinned and a sparkling image flashed through her mind, making her blink several times to drive it away. “It is not my fault that I am so handsome” Maxwell stated grinning, bringing her mind back. “Women naturally float around me”
Amara bit her lip to stop herself from returning a sharp comment and she focused on her food.
“You don’t have to be jealous though” he whispered conspiratorially. “I have eyes for only one person”
Amara gripped her fork and knife like a vise and raised cold eyes at him. “Good for you Mr. Babs” she stated and focused on her food.
Silence reigned for a few blessed seconds, only doused by the sounds of utensils and the hushed voices of other diners.
“I would love to have you call me Max” he suddenly said.
She raised her eyes. “I don’t see why I would want to do that” she returned. She saw where this was heading and it created a bitter taste in her mouth, making her lose her appetite.
“Are you always this uptight Amara?” he suddenly asked unsmiling, yet not frowning.
Anger surged to the surface and Amara found herself holding the knife like a weapon. Something tugged at her brain and she momentarily let go of her anger as curiosity took place. “Who told you my name is Amara?” she asked. She had made sure nobody knew her full name ever since she arrived Lagos, Max had been calling her Amara and now, thinking about it, she found it unsettling.
He smiled. “The person who manipulated you into this place called you Amara.” He said.
Amara almost growled aloud. Tina! She exclaimed internally. Somehow, she had felt that the entrance of Tina in her well-calculated life would change so many things. She could already feel it happening. The wall she had erected to guard her heart was already weakening; that could only explain the reason why she accepted to go on this date. And then, there was something else! She could not shake off the intense feeling that something was about to happen. The feeling was getting her all edgy. She took deep calming breaths and faced her food, playing with it. She was aware of Maxwell’s eyes on her. “You never did tell me about yourself” he said.
“Probably because there is nothing to tell” she said
“I heard you are single” he dropped his fork, relaxing fully as he studied her.
Amara raised her eyes icily to glare at him, wanting nothing more than to get out of that place. “You hear too many things for your own good Mr. Babs”
He smiled. “Yeah” he winked at her. “You know, we both are single and I think it is a good thing.”
“Yeah! We are perfect for each other; I am a complete package – exceedingly handsome, tall, rich and connected – you would have all the contracts and exposure you need with me by your side. You are also outstanding, financially independent, beautiful and sexy. We deserve each other. ” he stated.
Amara shook her head in outrage, glaring at him. “You, Mr. Babs, are the most egotistic man I have ever come across. How dare you” she barked, drawing attention as she stood up. For the first time, she saw a deep frown settle on Maxwell’s face. “I am not for sale handsome freak, and if this…” she gestured wildly with her hands. “… is the reason why you gave Ara P that contract, you better withdraw it now. I don’t know why I came here;Tina would hear it! Rubbish” she grabbed her bag and stormed away, pressing the elevator button violently. Her blood was running through her veins at an alarming rate, she was sure she might have a nervous breakdown. She swallowed hard, taking calming breaths to drive away her anger to a certain level but still, she kept replaying Max’s words. She bounced out of the elevator immediately the door opened and her heels clicked away as she marched out of the plaza.
Amara froze as that voice registered and echoed in her head. No! it can’t be. It definitely cannot be! That voice couldn’t be mistaken, it was already stamped in place in her heart.
Slowly, she took the longest turn of her life. Her breath caught in her throat as she gasped. Standing some distance away from her was the very last person she expected to see.
Alex placed his head on the table of his office in total exhaustion. He should be at home now, but he just could not think of doing that. The Island of Patmos would definitely be a better place of abode, compared to his house. Lisa had been a thorn in his flesh and it seemed the thorn was there to stay. His only consolation was Pamela. She looked just like Lisa with her exquisite beauty. If only Lisa could match her beauty with good manners, his life would not be a living hell.
The door of his office jerked open and Alex’s head snapped up in alarm. “Toba” he gasped as his friend marched forward. “What is going on? Is the building on fire?” he asked.
“You won’t believe what I just saw” Toba said instantly, looking incredulously at Alex.
Alex sat straighter. It is not everyday you get to see Toba looking this serious. “What news?”
Toba sank into a chair, facing Alex with his open laptop poised on his laps. “I was surfing through the internet, checking out some things when I stumbled on a site. Apparently, there is this Events’ Planning company which is making waves in Lagos, due to the designs and standard. When I checked it out, guess who I found as the founder of this company…”
Alex snorted. “Cut the crap and just tell me” he dropped.
“Your ex-wife, Amara” Alex stiffened, staring unblinking as the words echoed in his brain. Toba lifted the laptop on his lap and placed it in front of Alex, who stared unseeing at the laptop for some seconds. Blinking hard, he focused on the laptop and saw the picture of a woman. The person before him, in a small dark green gown and a white suit jacket was nothing like the naive village girl he knew. Although the face was undeniably hers, it showed vividly through the picture that the woman before him was a refined and well-polished woman. He could not believe his eyes.
“This… This is impossible…” He breathed.
Toba laughed slightly. “Impossible right? I would not have believed it myself if I did not see it with my own two eyes”
Alex stood up forcefully and his chair rolled backwards from the force. He had spent months searching for Amara all over Abuja but he hadn’t found her. Even after getting married to Lisa, he had searched but hadn’t found her. Life had been cruel to him. Just when he was beginning to like his marriage to Amara, she had turned out to be his sister and now, he was doomed to life with Lisa. But why did he still wish he could eat the forbidden fruit? Despite knowing that she is his blood, why was he still harboring the abominable feeling that Amara would have made an excellent wife. But no! He raked his hand through his bits of hair. He had to come to terms with the fact that she is and can only be his sister.
He swallowed. “You said she is in Lagos?” He asked thoughtfully.
Toba raised his eyebrow as he stared at the thoughtful face of his friend. “Oh no man, you are not thinking of doing what I think you want to do, are you?”
“And why not?” Alex turned, staring at the picture again. Oh, but she is so damn beautiful!
“Why not? Are you crazy? If Lisa finds out, your house would be a living hell”
Alex hissed. “It is already a living hell. Besides, she doesn’t have to find out”
Toba shook his head. “And why would you go looking for Amara. She is your sister, man! I know I am a bad person but I draw the line where family is concerned” he said.
Alex raised his eyes to stare at his friend. “And who said I was going there to do anything untoward. I have learnt my lessons. She is my sister and I really need her forgiveness so that we can be proper siblings”
Toba snorted and shook his head again. “Even if you can fool yourself, you can’t fool me man, I know you”
Alex sighed and looked at the laptop again. Lagos!
Amara seemed frozen as she stared at Kelvin standing some distance away from her, looking as frozen as she felt. It was like she had gone back in time as she recalled the very last time she had seen him. That day she had walked away from him with a heavy heart. It seemed like a lifetime had passed between that time and now. She couldn’t move as she gazed into his dark eyes despite the distance between them. The people which crowded the plaza gazed at them incredulously but they did not seem to notice.
Kelvin hadn’t been more shocked in his entire life. Who would have thought that he would see Amara today of all days. She was nothing like the woman he knew, yet, she was the same. Her hair was packed firmly behind her head in a stern-looking way, making her look a bit unapproachable, coupled with the suit she had on, but he did not see all that. He saw only the woman he had been forced to part ways with six years ago. The woman who had remained in his thoughts and dreams throughout the length of time. He swallowed hard as he ran his eyes over her face, pausing slightly when he sighted her pink lips, the one had only had the opportunity to taste once before. “Ara” he whispered silently, knowing that the distance would make it impossible for her to hear but the instant twinkle of her eyes made it obvious that she had heard him, or perhaps traced the movement of his mouth. He could not stand it any longer, his legs suddenly unlocked and he was walking towards her. Amara did the last thing he thought she would do; she turned and started running away.
Amara ran with all her might with her heart pounding. Her heels were making her legs hurt badly but she could not stop. She just couldn’t!
“Amara! Wait damn it” she heard Kelvin yell as he pursued her, advancing rapidly. She increased her pace and nearly ran past her car. She pressed the unlock button and ran into the car instantly, locking the door. Her hand shook wildly as she tried to put the key in its hole, starting the car instantly. Kelvin had obviously not assumed she would have a car and he immediately rushed off to his own car, giving her the blessed time to rush out of the parking lot. Her hands shook wildly against the staring as she drove in any direction she saw, not willing to take the chance of driving home, lest he followed her. She gazed at her mirror to see if he was following and was alarmed to find him, behind several cars, trying to maneuver his way through. She swallowed and gripped the staring harder till her knuckles turned white, going beyond the speed limit. She saw the traffic light ahead and prayed for a miracle. She ran past it and soon, the light turned red. She checked the mirror and saw that Kelvin’s car had been held back. She exhaled the breath she had been holding and swallowed hard, trying to regulate her breathing. After driving for ten minutes without being followed, she found her way home.
She puller the car to a final stop inside her compound but could not find the energy to come out. She was shaken to her roots. “This can’t be happening” she asked. “No! No!!” She slammed her fists against the steering. “My past is not crawling back. No” she cried out as her eyes watered. She blinked severally. “Oh great! Now I am going to cry?” She yelled at herself, blinking furiously.
A neighbor knocked on her window and she raised her eyes. Perfect! She thought. She removed her car key and alighted, grabbing her bag. “I am fine” she murmured before the neighbor could say anything.
The Lady looked at her, full of concern. “Are you sure?” She asked
Amara managed a weak smile. “Yes, I am. Thanks for the concern” she turned instantly and focused on leading her stiff legs to her apartment. She went straight to her room and leaned against the door, breathing rapidly until she slipped to the floor, staring at the dark room, without bothering to turn on the light.
Amara ignored all the calls that came in throughout the night, until she decided to turn off her phone. She did not go to ‘Ara P’ until the afternoon, two days after, when she was sure she had recovered from her shock. As she arrived, all her worried staff greeted her with extra enthusiasm, wordlessly trying to know what was amiss but she dismissed their worries with a cool smile as she headed for her office. She met a few people waiting for her but without looking at them, she quickly responded to Tega’s greeting. “Oh boss, thank God you are here. They have been waiting to see you,especially that man over there.”
Amara turned to apologize but on seeing the man in question, she gasped, grabbing Tega’s table to keep her from crumbling to the ground.
…to be continued