Maxwell went rigid against Amara’s closely knitted body as his blood roared in his head. He knew what was happening, he just was having a hard time coming to terms with it. She is using me! Me! It was so startling that he could almost not believe it at first. He felt her slim hands wrapped firmly around his waist as her face remained tilted up in a smile directed at Alex. He couldn’t decipher if her goal was to annoy Alex or make him jealous. Whatever the case might be, it did not taste good to him in the least, but for the life of him, he couldn’t call her bluff. Swallowing hard, he gazed impassively at Alex. “That is right” he declared, his voice ringing out in the dead silence which had descended the air. “And I am not particularly glad that someone has upset damsel just when I came to whisk her away on a romantic date”
Amara stiffened and her smile slipped before she hastily corrected herself. She smiled up at Maxwell, making him blink and wonder vaguely how a simple smile could make someone look so breathtaking. “Oh Max, surely the visit of an unwanted pest is not enough to sour my mood. Where are you taking me darling?” she asked with her eyes sparkling with humor.
He raised his arm and lightly brushed against the hair at her nape. He winked at her. “It is a surprise” he said grinning mischievously.
Alex snorted with rage and started bouncing towards them. “Would you both do me the pleasure of getting out of the way?” he barked. “The sight of you makes me sick”
Amara turned to face him with a firm glare. “Well, I hope you remain sick; that way you would keep your disdainful self from disturbing my life” she spat angrily, leaving the entrance for Alex to safely lead himself through. “Do not let me see your face anywhere close to mine Alex, I can get a restraining order” she threatened.
Alex laughed. “The law in Nigeria cannot stop me from doing anything I want to do woman” he said.
“But I can” Maxwell responded. “No one interferes with what’s mine; you’ll do good to remember that” he said sternly.
A smirk crept up Alex’s face. “This woman is not yours; you’ll do good to remember that” he returned and walked briskly out of the office.
Alex fumed, boiling with unadulterated rage as he flagged down a taxi and hopped in, slamming the door forcefully. The desire to use his fists on either Amara or Maxwell had been too strong; it had been a miracle that he left her office without creating a scene. The fact that he had married Amara in the secluded enclosure of his father’s sitting room and had practically kept his marriage a secret the whole time had made the whole marriage fiasco remain a secret. Only few knew of the scandalous marriage and the few who knew were not prepared for the scandal of the press so they never breathed a word. He clenched his fists at his sides as blood gushed through his veins. Alex admitted that he had expected Amara to have a man in her life, but damn, he hadn’t expected him to be so incredibly handsome. The man had been handsome almost to the state of beauty, enough to put every male model to shame. His look was enough to intimidate any man who tries to drag a woman with him because; any woman would take one look at Maxwell and dump whoever she is with. To top it up, he is wealthy! Alex thought, disgusted.
He shouldn’t be angry! He didn’t even have the right to be, but here he was, boiling with rage over the fact that his ‘ex-sister and ex-wife’ was with another man. Vaguely, he remembered that his wife and daughter were in Abuja, where he ought to be also, but, his mind didn’t dwell on it. He had just found out that there was no abomination in engaging in anything frivolous with Amara; that was the only good thing he could draw from the stupid news he heard this morning, and he would be stupid if he couldn’t take advantage of it. He picked up his phone and called Toba.
The phone was answered almost instantly. “Hey man, what trouble have you sank yourself into?”
“Cut off the snide remarks, I am not in the mood for it” Alex barked into the phone.
“Wow, someone has upset his lordship; if it isn’t Lisa, then it no doubt is Amara” he bit out.
Alex hissed. “Since the former is back there in Abuja, I guess that is out of the question.” He said sternly. “I need you to run a check on Maxwell Babs for me” Alex said before Toba could answer.
“What about him?” Toba asked, out of curiosity.
“I just need to know about his part relationships and data on any doting ex that might want him back” Alex said forcefully.
Toba laughed. “Let me guess: he is involved with Amara”
“That is none of your damned business” Alex yelled. “Just do what I asked.
“She is your SISTER” Toba yelled. “Why are you being so senseless?”
“News flash! She is not my sister. She…” he sighed. “It is a long story. Just get me that info as soon as possible.”
“Ok. Hey man, sorry to add to your heavy load of problems but I must warn you, Lisa is likely to be in Lagos as we speak”
“WHAT?” Alex yelled and the taxi driver almost lost control from the shock of the sudden exclamation. “What on earth would she be doing here?”
“Saving her marriage, of course. I went over to your place and was told that she left the house a day after you and kept Pamela with that lousy friend of hers”
Alex scratched his head furiously. “That woman would be the death of me” he swore, wondering what Lisa must be doing now. But if she had been in Lagos the whole time and hadn’t confronted him, Alex couldn’t begin to imagine what is wife might be up to. He hung without another word and closed his eyes with his brain running wild. When he had embarked on this ridiculous escapade, he hadn’t envisioned dealing with Lisa’s craftiness also.
Lisa alighted from the taxi after Alex’s cab had vanished from sight. She stared at the Ara P building curiously. She shoved the digital camera in her hand into her bag. She had taken numerous pictures of Alex already. Alex had come out of the building terribly angry and something told Lisa that someone was inside that company who is responsible. She turned to the taxi driver. “Wait for me” she murmured, then walked towards the building.
Amara was so nervous, she felt she might faint from the intense turning of her stomach. The silence in her office was so deafening and she completely avoided looking at Maxwell. She couldn’t tell what stupidity had come over to make her do something do terrible. She had completely used Maxwell, giving him no choice but to play along. She couldn’t imagine what a disaster it would have been if he had exposed her act by declaring that she had lied. But he had instead played the gentleman and had covered up for her rather smoothly even though she had felt his tension as she wrapped her hands around his waist. And I kissed him! Amara felt faint from the thought, avoiding his gaze at all cost. The weird thing was that she had felt almost nothing. She had barely registered the feel of his lips on hers and it didn’t seem fair. She must have totally bruised his ego with what she did. She started playing with her fingers nervously.
“I think I deserve an explanation” Maxwell’s voice suddenly cut into her reverie, making her head snap up instantly. She saw the tightness of his jaw and cursed herself.
“I am sorry… I am so sorry. I should never have done what I did, I acted without thinking” she said hastily. “I am sorry”
He smiled drily. “You used me to make him jealous” he stated.
“No! Of course not; I just… wanted him to leave me in peace and thought that if he sees me with someone else, he just might” she explained apologetically.
“You love him?” he asked quietly.
Amara almost laughed. I would rather love the devil! “No” she answered firmly. The idea of loving him was so unpleasant that it created a bitter taste in her mouth.
Maxwell must have seen the truth in her eyes because his shoulders slumped in relief. Amara looked at him with hopeful eyes. “I am so sorry! Do you forgive me? I swear it never was my intention to use you. I am so stupid; you walked in and I acted without thinking.”
Maxwell smiled softly. “Well, I would forgive you on one condition” he declared and Amara stiffened, wondering what he might ask of her. “I do believe I came to whisk you away to a romantic dinner date” he began with a smug smile. “That is if the visit of the unwanted pest truly hasn’t soured your mood” he grinned.
Amara flushed with embarrassment. Maxwell arched his brow, waiting for her answer. She sighed. “Alright. I am sure I owe you more than that for my stupidity” she said as she went to shut down her system and grab her handbag.
He grinned winningly. “Right now, I am glad you used me”
Lisa stayed outside Ara P, somewhere hidden from sight as she took pictures of every woman that came out of Ara P. She knew only a woman can get Alex so annoyed so she didn’t waste the lens on men except the ones she deemed too fine to leave out. She had initially wanted to enter but changed her mind at the last minute. It is always best to remain undercover, until it is absolutely necessary to surface, she thought vaguely, thinking of the numerous American movies she had watched. As she took pictures, a couple emerged from the building and her mouth instantly dropped open just from seeing the gorgeous man who was smiling brightly at his partner. She totally ignored the partner as her eyes devoured the hunk of a man. He was indeed a very ‘beautiful’ man, one who would give you breathtakingly beautiful children. She started taking several pictures of him but as the woman beside him came into view, Lisa almost swallowed her tongue in complete shock. Walking beside the extremely handsome man was the last person she expected to see.
“Amara?” she gasped silently. Her mouth refused to close as she stared at the refined version of her husband’s ex-wife. She blinked severally as she stared at the couple walk towards a shining black jeep. Amara!!! Her brain repeated in bewilderment. She was too shocked. So, Alex had left Abuja to continue his escapades with his ‘sister’? Have they no shame? She swallowed hard as her hatred for Amara blossomed and multiplied. When would Amara leave my man alone for me? She wondered angrily. She quickly took Amara’s picture before she vanished into the safety of the tinted car, then she glared at the camera, still in shock. This woman surely must be casting a spell on all men, she thought vaguely as she watched the handsome man pull out of the parking lot with Amara beside him. Her anger mounted and mounted until she thought she might explode.
“Ohhhh… I will deal with you Amara” she clenched her fists, holding the camera in a vice-like grip. “I would teach you an unforgettable lesson you whore. I have waited long enough” she growled spitefully as the car sped out of sight.
It was already dark when Maxwell pulled to a stop in front of her house. Surprisingly, Amara had truly enjoyed the outing. Considering the fact that the one and only Alex had showed up today, Amara wondered why she still had a cause to smile. Could it be that she was truly healing? Could she be really getting over her past? Hope bubbled in her, for the first time in years. She knew that it must have something to do with Kelvin’s appearance. Even though he had done next to nothing, seeing him alone had changed her. Amara turned to Maxwell as she grabbed her bag. She smiled. “I really had a nice time” and she meant it.
“I am glad. I had a nice time as well. I would give anything to have this again” Maxwell said with a smile. Amara tensed, then tried to push aside the real meaning of the comment. “Even if it involves you using me against other guys. The prospect of being your fiancé is actually very pleasing” he grinned.
Amara laughed, glad that he had a sense of humor. “Don’t tempt me, I just might take you up on that” she returned, surprising herself by following up that joke.
“Is that a promise?” his eyes widened brightly and Amara laughed.
“No” she said quickly. It occurred to Amara that Max would be a very good friend. He seemed easy to like, disregarding the initial impression she had of him. She glanced at the gate to her compound and sighed. “I guess I’d better go”
He sighed also. “Sadly”
Amara smiled. “Goodnight. Thanks”
He leaned forward and planted a soft kiss on her cheek before she could blink. She shifted slightly and gave him a shaky smile before alighting from the car. She opened the gate and went in, sighting her car inside the compound as she closed the gate. She had told one of the two security men in Ara P to help drive the car home. As she walked towards her apartment, her phone rang and she fished it out of her bag, and picked it up.
The voice that floated into her ear made her heart skip. “Hello beautiful”
She didn’t need to ask to know who was speaking. “Kelvin” she breathed.
“How are you Ara? Are you looking as beautiful as you looked yesterday?” his low voice breathed.
Amara shook her head. “God save me from flirtatious men!”
Kelvin laughed at the other end. “It would be almost impossible not to flirt with you honey. You have the most compelling appearance.”
Amara held the phone against her ear, holding it in place with her shoulder as she tried to fish out her keys from her bag, with a silly smile on her face. “Oh, cut it out” she snapped playfully. As she removed her keys from her bag, her eyes fell on a piece of folded paper sticking out of the door. She frowned as she pulled it out, not really listening to what Kelvin was saying as she read the words on the paper. What the…
“Ara!” Kelvin called suddenly, cutting off what he was saying. “Are you there?”
“Y… Yes. I…” Amara stared at the paper in bewilderment. “I just saw a weird note at my door.”
She stared frightened at the note with ‘IT’S PAYBACK TIME’ boldly written on it, not knowing what to think of it.
“A weird note?” he asked, catching the frightened note in her voice.
“It’s payback time. That is what is written on it” she said, clearly afraid now.
“I am coming over” he said instantly. “Don’t go in. I would be there in a few minutes” he added and hung up before she could protest. Amara read the note again, not knowing what to make of it.
…to be continued