‘’ NOT AGAIN!’’, I thought as I approached Paul. Paul was the last person that I expected to see, at least not in the market. Hi, happy Val’s day, he said; As if I cared, those words almost escaped from my lips as I nodded back. How have you been? He asked. ‘Never been better’ I replied with a sarcastic smile lurked round my face; we were together for almost two years and it never worked, I replied. ‘That’s not true, Darlene, you never put in any effort to love me’, he said.’ You can’t force love’, I replied smiling. ‘You were in a haste to get rid of me’, he said. ‘You told me that you regret ever knowing me, why then are you stalking me?’ I asked. ‘I can’t just let go of you yet, I want to try, I want to fight for your love’, he replied. ‘That is if I have any to offer’, I replied bluntly. I could hear the disappointment in his voice as he said, ‘You will find the man you will love someday, how will you feel if he treated you this way?’ He asked. I grinned. Love is cliché; I replied and turned to meet Mrs Small staring at us, YES, I know that stare. ‘The overprotective Dad look’
‘You were very harsh on Paul’, Mrs Small said as she drove. ‘He was becoming a pain and he really needed to hear the truth from me’, I replied. ‘Don’t you believe in love at all?’ She asked. I scoffed. Is it a religion? I asked smiling but Mrs Small didn’t seem to find it funny, Listen Toni, Love is not what it used to be, maybe if I was born in the Romeo and Juliet days or maybe if I was loved by Shakespeare, I wouldn’t mind falling in love, but not in this generation, I replied, trying to sound convincing, even to myself. Why did you agree to date Paul in the first place? She asked with curiosity in her voice. To prove a point to my father, he but called me an ‘Amazon’ and said that it would be impossible for any man to want to date me, but on the day he said this, Paul took me out and asked me out, I really wanted my father to know that I could have any man at my beck and call and so I agreed, I replied.
Congratulations Toni, Dare said as he walked into our office. Thank you Dare, she replied. How is your intern doing? He asked staring at me. She is doing just fine, she replied taking a quick glance at me. I looked disgusted. Did he call me an intern? I said to myself silently. Good night ladies, and enjoy the lovers frenzy he said and walked out. ‘‘I couldn’t help but wish my boss could just fall and break a leg’’. ‘Let me give you a ride?’ Mrs Small offered. Sorry, I will be working a little late, I replied. Later honey, she replied with a smile and left. Unfortunately, that happened to be a lie, one of the ‘’skills’’ I had to pick up from dating Paul, so it comes naturally. I picked up my phone and called Jake.
‘’911’’What is the emergency please? Jake asked with a very familiar smile as he ‘’rolled up’’ in his car. Why did you choose to humiliate me in this ‘’Jalopy’’ especially on Val’s day, I asked sarcastically. Jalopy, he replied. This is a limited edition ‘’1992 Audi 80 avante’’, only a hundred of this was manufactured and I happen to have the only one in this town, he bragged. And you should be ‘’honoured’’ to ride in one, he added sarcastically ‘’especially on Val’s day’’, he said with so much pride lurking around his face, as if he bought the car with his own money, the previous owner of the car, his dad probably got so sick of the car and passed it to him, and I am yet to find out what is so special about the car. ‘Whatever’, I replied. I ran into Paul today at the Central Market. He laughed. It is not funny, I think he is going to be stalking me all my life, I replied. Hey Miss Cinderella, the world doesn’t revolve around you, he said sarcastically. I clenched my fists and punched him hard. Is that the best you can do? He asked laughing, but seriously, is that what you are worried about? He asked. Of course, I replied. What else can I be worried about? I asked. I thought you would feel remorse about the message sent to him, it was a really irritating message, if you sent that to me, I would have driven you off a cliff, he replied with a smile. I could never send such to you, you are my best friend, I said.
Hi Darlene, Dad said as I walked in. Hello, I replied coldly. When are you going to stop resenting me for not putting you in the family’s firm? He asked. When I survive my first week at Ade-Cole, I replied, pouring myself lemonade. It is for your own good, he replied. Yeah yeah yeah here we go again, I replied angrily. I am a first class material from Harvard Dad! What else do you want from me? I deserve to be in your chambers not working for some ‘’slave driver’’ and you know it. Everyone knows that Williams Firm is the best in the continent; I yelled angrily and left for my room. I know you would get in on merits, but it is for your good, he called out as I slammed my door angrily.
“Do you want me to give you a ride?” Dad asked as he came downstairs. There we go again, i knew the peace and quiet had been too perfect to last but thank God we didn’t have to go the through the ‘good morning-good morning routine’. No, thanks, I already called Jake, I replied. “When are you going to get your own car?” He asked. “Maybe when I start earning my salary”, I replied, sipping my coffee. “Jake can’t continue to do everything for you; he has got his own life”, he said, slipping into his Suit. He is not complaining Dad; I replied and carried my briefcase. See you later, I added and walked out. Jake pulled up seconds after I walked out of the house.
“Are you satisfied with ‘the new golden carriage’? Jake asked as rolled down the tinted window with a grin on his face. “It is okay,” I replied. So you call my new ‘beamer’ okay? How many of this have you seen around,” Jake added raising an eyebrow with his “leery eyes” peering from under his dark glasses. Jakeand I had been friends from as far back as I could recall, we went to the same schools, even Harvard, Jake bagged a degree in Architecture. He is very artistic and creative, that is my favourite quality in him, apart from his heavy masculine physique and cute face. Jake is the perfect listener. I rant about all my fears and pains to him, and he lends me the listening ear that I require. “Jake please don’t get me started this morning” I replied, ”wow, someone’s pissed, why didn’t you turn up for the party last night?” Jake replied with a queer, choked voice, “unlike you some of us have to go to work’’ I replied shifting my weight from the middle arm-rest, I was angry but not too angry to notice the comfy leather interior of the new BMW X6, Jake is self-employed with really no reason to work, He is the only son of the owner of the biggest construction company in west Africa. Be a good girl, he said as he pulled up in front of Ade-Cole Law Firm. I smiled and hurried off.
Good morning Toni, I said as I walked in. Hello Darlene, she replied smiling. Dare wants to see you in his office, she added quickly. A stream of anger and fatigue flew through my whole body; I immediately left for his office. “Good morning Sir,” I said. The name is Dare, he replied with a grin which he rarely did. We do a first name here, you should have read that in the handbook, he added. Yes Dare, I replied, feeling comfortable. I went through your credentials last night and I must say, it is top class, he said, “thanks”, I replied. He was too engrossed in he’s speech to notice the irony in my voice Does that mean that I get my office? I asked. No, at least not yet, the personal office thing comes when the firm feels that you are certified by all standards to be an office owner, he replied still with the strange and annoying grin. Why then did he call me here? I said to myself inaudibly. “Darlene, I would like you to accompany me to a press conference by 2pm, it is for the firm”, he said. I glanced at my watch. “It won’t take your time and you don’t need to say a thing, in fact, you have nothing to say, you are just going to be a figure there”, he continued. I wore a weird gaze at him. I am actually taking you because I think you are beautiful and would make for a good cover page standing by me, he added, why don’t you just a hire a Model? I asked bluntly. He laughed. Hiring will mean me paying her and I am not interested in paying for a thirty minutes interview. He replied. I wasn’t aware that that was part of our professional agreement…I can check with my colleagues to be certain, I replied, looking uninterested. “Could you really check?” he asked. I frowned at his Sarcasm. Look Darlene, you are my staff and you do what I say, he replied.
Dare forced me to a press conference, God knows what he would do to me next before this week runs out, I complained bitterly to Jake as he drove me home later in the evening. Who is Dare? He asked. My boss, Dare Ade-Cole, I replied. Do I sense a “beauty and the beast story” in the offing? He asked with a sarcastic smile. Yeah yeah…very funny Jake, I replied probably not impressed with one of Jake’s casual Jokes. “The firm operates on a first name basis between the staffs”, I replied. You will be fine babe, you are very strong and you will come out well there, he said.” Do you know why my Dad doesn’t want me at his firm”? I asked, with no provocation. If you work at Williams Firm, people will say that your Dad planted you there, they will disregard your merits, he replied. Jake that is so “flat”, I worked hard for my degree, I replied with a deep breath. Prove it at Ade-Cole and you will see that your father will be dying to have you at his firm, he said. I sighed. Cheer up babe, do you care for chicken? KFC is just right around the corner, he said. Thanks Jake, I replied. What would I do without you? I asked with a smile. Nothing, you couldn’t do anything without me, he replied with a grin.
…To Be Continued