BEAUTY AND THE MECHANIC CHAPTER THIRTEEN
Barrister Babs and Edua walked down the long hallway. While her boss dictated, she quickly scribbled on her notepad. Two doors away from their office, they ran into the CEO’s younger brother, Barrister Kolawole.
“Greetings madam,” he bowed comically.
Barrister Babs chuckled and slapped him on the shoulder, in a playful manner. She had grown fond of him since she started working in the firm. He reminded her of her younger brother who lived with his family in the United Kingdom.
“Is this your new Personal Assistant,” his dark gaze sized Edua up, then returned to her boss.
“Yes, isn’t she easy on the eyes?” her wide smile made her eyes to twinkle in delight. She had requested for a new P.A since her former Personal Assistant got married and relocated to Port Harcourt early that year.
“Yes, yes. Pretty boss, pretty P.A, aren’t you lucky,” he winked at her.
“How is the Eleganza’s property case?”
Barrister Kolawole sighed heavily and shook his head. It was a case that was proving to be quite difficult due to the set of people involved.
“Don’t worry,” she patted him on the back, “The CEO is a damn good lawyer. He will shred the opposition to pieces in court.”
“I pray so. They have a pretty good case against the chief.”
“Notwithstanding, we have faced bigger sharks.”
“True, true,” he nodded in agreement and glanced at Edua briefly, then back at her boss.
“Wishing you success with the case.”
“Thank you ma’am,” he bowed again and sauntered away with long strides.
Barrister Babs watched him go, then shook her head, lost in thought. It had been a while since she spoke with her younger brother. She made a mental note to call him once she closed for the day. She turned to her personal assistant and pointed a warning finger.
“I need this before I leave for the Island.”
“Yes ma,” she looked at the notepad, then back at her boss.
“No mistakes, I don’t have time to go over it,” she stared at her sternly.
“Yes, ma, no mistakes.”
“You have ten minutes to get it ready,” she marched into the office.
Edua followed her in a hurry and dashed to her desk. The sooner her boss left for the island, the better for her. She was famished and had only taken a cup of beverage and biscuit that morning. It was two in the afternoon and her intestine was tied up in knots. She pressed the start button on the laptop, scrolled to the recent documents tab, clicked on ‘Boss Lady’s letters’, and tapped her fingers on the table while she waited for it open.
Forty-five minutes later, she carried her boss’ hand bag and followed her to the car park. The moment the driver swerved into the main road, Edua crossed the road and went into the restaurant opposite the Mega Plaza. Aside several other people in the building from different parts of the city, she recognized a good number of Consolidated Partners Law Firm staff members. She joined the queue at the rice and stew stand and waited patiently for her turn.
“So, we meet again.”
The male voice interrupted her disjointed thoughts. Was someone talking to her? She glanced back immediately and saw the CEO’s younger brother, Barrister Kolawole, standing right behind her.
“Good afternoon sir,” she said quickly and turned around. She didn’t know that the Senior staff also frequent that particular restaurant. Her boss always ordered for food from exotic restaurants in the area and at times, she drove out with friends for lunch. There were times she heard them discussing the various Chinese restaurant they had visited.
“Is Babs in her office?”
She shook her head and took a quick look at him.
“Has she gone for the day?” his dark gaze lingered on her pretty smooth and fair face.
Edua blinked and thought for a while. The woman said nothing about not coming back to the office.
“I am not sure sir.”
She folded her arms across her chest and noticed that there were only two more people in front of her. it was almost her turn. She sighed with relief. She thought of what she was going to have for lunch. Rice and plantain, with or without spaghetti and salad. Chicken, goat meat or cow meat? She pondered. Suddenly, she sensed that she was being watched. She didn’t need to turn. She was sure that the CEO’s younger brother was staring at her. Was he checking her out? She killed the quiet laughter bubbling past her throat. Even though she had lost a little weight since she changed her lifestyle, her round and firm backside was still the same size, drawing the kind of attention she didn’t want to attract. No matter what she wore, it seemed to take shape, turning heads everywhere she goes. Worse of all was her bosom. Every time she put on a shirt, she always had to close all the buttons because her cleavage becomes visible. In her past life, she wouldn’t have minded, but, definitely not now that she was trying to turn a new leaf and live decently.
Edua bought her food, paid and went in search of a table that wasn’t crowded. She found one close to the entrance. There was two lady seated, sipping their drinks and nibbling at a piece of meat-pie each. She greeted them and pulled out a seat. She signaled to one of the sales girls standing beside a refrigerator. The girl hurried to her side and took her order. She returned with a bottle of 50cl Coca Cola soft drink. She paid for the drink and started to eat.
Barrister Kolawole placed his plate on the table and sat opposite her. She looked at him and continued to eat, wondering why he came to sit with her. They ate in silence for a while, until the two ladies sitting beside them got up after they had finished their meal.
“Edua Imasogie, right?”
She lifted her light brown eyes to look at him, then nodded.
“Your boss is a very intelligent woman. You can learn a lot from her,” he sipped at his drink.
She smiled and continued to eat.
“It doesn’t matter if you didn’t study law in school. You can pick up a thing or two that will benefit you in future,” he said, as if reading her mind.
She swallowed the food in her mouth and didn’t bother to meet his stare.
“Where were you working before you joined the law firm?”
She pushed the empty plate away. She pondered on the best way to answer his question.
“I have been on my own since I graduated from the university.”
He raised an eyebrow. “What kind of business?”
She finished her drink and cleared her throat. If he wasn’t the brother of the CEO of the law firm, she would have ignored him.
“Well… I was into em… trade,” she met his curious gaze.
“Trade? What were you trading?”
She turned away and fidgeted on the plastic chair. “I… I em… let’s say I was being paid for making a lot of people happy.”
He started to laugh. He had no idea what she was talking about.
“I had a few disagreements with my business partners, I also wanted a change and here I am, working at Consolidated Partners Law Firm,” she feigned a smile.
“Interesting,” he finished his drink and smiled at her.
She cleared her throat again, “I need to get back to the office.”
“Is your boss back?”
She shook her head, “I don’t think so.”
He leaned forward, “Then stay here with me, for a while,” his dark eyes bored into hers.
She stared back at him, then noticed envious gazes from some of the female staff members sitting not too far away from them. It dawned on her that she was with one of the eligible bachelors in the firm. Someone many were dying to be with.
“Permit me to be more direct, are you in a relationship?”
She folded her arms across her chest and looked him up and down.
“Do you have a boyfriend or are you by chance, engaged?” his firm and serious eyes regarded her.
“I am sorry, but, this is rather a personal question.”
He smiled, “I know. Your response determines whether I get up and leave, or stay.”
“I am not in a relationship at the moment.”
“Fantastic,” his smile broadened.
She raised an eyebrow. “And I am taking my time at the moment.”
He chuckled, “Splendid.”
She blinked, not sure what was on his mind.
“Then, you won’t mind joining me for dinner, tomorrow evening, after work.”
“Yes, dinner. I believe that by getting to know each other, we can form an alliance,” his dark eyes began to twinkle in excitement.
“Alliance?” now, she was lost.
“Yes, an alliance that I hope will lead into a very bright future,” he reached out for her hand across the table and kissed it softly.
His action sent a tremor down her spine. She snatched back her hand and looked around. A few of the staff members were looking their way. She turned back to see him smiling as if he had won the lottery.
“Shall we?” he got to his feet.
She got to her feet and marched out of the restaurant. He fell into steps with her. They crossed the road and walked into the plaza. She quickened her steps, got into the empty elevator and pressed the second floor button. The doors closed before he got to her and she sighed in relief. She tried to think about what had just happened, but, her mind was muddled up.
One thing was clear, Barrister Kolawole was interested in her. He was physically attractive and almost every female staff member in the law firm wanted him, but, she doubted if she was in the best frame of mind to go into another relationship. She was still hurting from Chidi’s rejection and she wasn’t even sure if the CEO’s brother would be able to handle her past. Was there any man on planet earth who would take her for who she was, past, present and future? She closed her eyes and rested against the steel wall.
The elevator stopped and the doors opened. Edua opened her eyes and walked out. On her way to her office, she saw Barrister Kolawole standing right at the door. She groaned inwardly. How did he get there before her? Her plan to avoid him had failed.
“I took the stairs,” he grinned at her and followed her into the office.
“Sir, I don’t think that I can have dinner with you tomo…”
Barrister Kolawole swept her in his arms before she could complete the sentence. His full lips consumed hers passionately. She froze for the next ten seconds, totally taken aback by his show of affection. Unable to stop herself, she responded. There was no need to pretend, she liked him too. She might as well dine with him the next day. Maybe if they took things slow, a day at a time, everything might work out for them. She wrapped her arms around his neck as the kiss deepened.