ǁǁǁ The stage was set. I was to meet the ‘groom’. I received the exclusive invitation to the dinner party-Unveiling of “The Edge” newspaper with a monthly magazine featuring Africa’s best across the globe. Don Pedro Anang, a close friend of Ali Kyari Bricks was the owner. Thanks to Akhmed, I had an invite after a week of studying his father’s bulky résumé……and I never finish o. My mind no dey grab him details. Maybe na because him be old man or I dey fear sef.
Anyways, Ali Kyari was going to be there and I was going to meet him.
Dem-Dem magazine as nicknamed by Uche got me laughing as I dressed up in front of my vanity mirror. I had to re-apply my lipstick twice because she no gree me rest with commentary on the phone. She was on speaker. It was a Friday. Tessy lay quietly at the foot of the bed but took to her heels when I took out my Estee Lauder’s Amber Mystique. She so hated perfumes! I loved them.
Presenting my gold embossed invitation card at the entrance, I stepped into the Transcorp Hilton’s banquet hall. The traffic of high powered individuals could cause an orgasm. Speaking of orgasms, when was the last time I had a shattering one? ***deep in thought***. Oh yes! That orgasm!!! Hehehe. Lips sealed.
Scanning around to identify my target, I saw him enthusiastically leading a discussion at the far end of the room. He looked younger than the paper photos and T.V appearances. I looked for resemblance between father and son as I walked closer. A drink in hand, I approached, stopping occasionally to greet familiar faces. I did not have a plan but I knew I had to meet him.
“Didi?” A loud call. I turned to look for the owner of such a boisterous voice. The mini group headed by my ‘target’ turned too. He turned last. I was in luck. It was Mr. Balogun; an old friend of my mother. He was accused of being her lover at a time by my father because he always had land documents that needed to be sold and mother was a land merchant. She taught me all I knew about real estate. Well maybe I polished a little but she was my rock.
“Mr. B!” I called fondly and rushed into his outstretched arms.
“Baby is grown now! Ehen!” he said in another boisterous laugh. Keep it up I thought.
“I couldn’t help it” I replied in a shy laugh.
“Of course, of course” he said as his eyes searched the crowd. He was obviously looking for someone too.
“How’s the family? Your wife?” I asked as we stood, drinks in hand, conversations continuing in other groups.
“Oh! They are fine, they are fine. Come, I need to introduce you to my friend. It is high time you bring me a man” he said as we brushed past Dr. Brick’s group. He seemed concerned that I wasn’t getting the altar calls. If only he knew….
From nowhere a waiter with a tray gave me a push that had me landing on a strong chest with my glass of almost empty red wine pouring on a chest in a splash while he struggled to balance himself. The flowing bluish-green low-cut chiffon gown I wore with black sparkling studs all embossed on the back in V-shape to the junction of my spine got caught in my shoes as I struggled to stand upright too. The heels didn’t help. Mr.B’s grip helped me up. The waiter stood with an apologetic facial expression. I for fire am slap sef! Mumu….mtchew.
Straightening and looking to see the extent of stain on my newly acquired dinner gown, I raised my eyes to meet with a pair of black sharp eyes that pierced. I lowered my eyes for the first time ever. It was him.
Ali Kyari Bricks; Nigeria’s famous diplomat, philanthropist, investor and of course billionaire. He was well known for his contributions to National development across the continent, former Ambassador to the Czech Republic, Spain and Russia. A renowned diplomat that speaks French, Spanish, Czech, Italian and Mandarin; He has being co-opted into The Elder’s Forum initiated by Richard Branson and recently touring all African countries on issues of HIV/AIDS and economic empowerment. Widely traveled, his investments had paid off under the watchful eye of his right hand man, Dr Lanre Onilenla; another business stalwart that was never in the public eye. I made a mental note to have him on my side.
“I am so sorry. The waiter came in from nowhere” I said to elegant frame standing before me so dignified and intimidating. Raising my eyes to meet with his again, I was out of breath. He was in excellent form but our clothes were ruined. With reading glasses perched on his straight nose and nicely formed lips that opens to reveal a set of irregular white teeth I came to love, he straightened to look at his white outfit. A ‘Jumper’.
I was happy and sad at same time. This could either make me or break me.
“Ahhh! Sorry o! Otunba Mi!” it was Mr. Balogun. Dr. Bricks looked at me while Mr. Balogun kept apologizing on my behalf and piling the fault on the waiter that stood mouthing apologies to no one in particular.
“It is okay” he said calmly still looking at me. I looked back trying to read his eyes but couldn’t. This was another first.
“How do you suppose I get a change of clothes?” he asked me seconds later detaching himself from his group and waving away the waiter. I swallowed nervously with a fake smile plastered on my red lips.
“I could get them from the stores? I only hope they fit and you do me the honors of wearing them” I replied with a shy smile. Then added;
“I am so sorry. I should have emptied my cup sooner” with that he broke into a smile. I relaxed.
“Indeed. How do you do?” he quickly brushed me aside as he shook hands with Mr. B. I stood uncertain on my next move. I felt so vulnerable and shy and totally nervous. I lost my nerve. I wanted out of this place, out of the deal. Akhmed can blackmail me but with what I know, I’d get my fingers on him too. That thought gave me strength. Studying him I noticed his laugh lines, the beautiful shape of ears and a small growth of ‘submissive’ beards that had a day’s old written all over it. It was difficult to agree that the man was fifty years old. His mannerism spoke volumes of a cultured man capable of doing all the things Akhmed said he could. The quietness he exuded was unsettling. I had to leave now.
“Excuse me Mr. B” I said abruptly as I tried to excuse myself from the discussion that had gone from personal relations to stocks and shares. I was not interested. Perhaps I should buy the clothes and have it delivered. Maybe I should not. Go home Didi.
“Yes dear?” it was Mr B.
“I should get going” I made it just above a whisper.
“Ok. But promise to come to the office on Monday for a catch up?” he said with a concerned look. I nodded.
Turning to Dr. Bricks, I bade him a good evening. He simply nodded with a lopsided smile.
“Your clothes?” I asked.
“Never mind” was all he said.
“I owe you one” I said and walked out of the hall.
Felt eyes on me as I walked out but had no idea who was looking. I hoped it was Ali Kyari Bricks. Phew! The man was something.
I got home to see Akhmed parked outside my gate obviously waiting for me. I signaled Adamu to let both cars drive in. I was hoping to get a grip before reporting my “progress”. But no, he had to be here……I thought irritated.
“So, how was it?” he asked coming over to meet me as I got down. I adjusted my irritated expression.
“Oh well, I literally fell on him and held his attention for like five seconds” I said biting my tongue from telling him I was no longer interested.
“Five seconds with my Dad is plenty. Trust me” he said in a good mood.
“I should hope so” I said making a face as I walked to my door.
“Coming in?” I asked keying my door.
“No. You have to meet him again soon. Call you tomorrow” with that he strolled happily to his car.
“Yeah……..and push me to marry an old man” I muttered under my breath miserably.
Tessy was wagging as usual. Picking her up, I settled her in for the night.
Last night I had a dream. It was disturbing and I could not remember. Guess Tessy licking my face because I overslept added to the evasiveness of the dream. Bad habit Tessy……..no dey give me pimples wey Mary Kay no fit cover abeg.
I lay there for a long time while Tessy walked to and fro the length of the bed and finally gave up. She sat quietly on my bed slip-on waiting for me to get up. It was a Sunday.
Uche had most of my Saturday. Shopped and took a massage. Caught up on the new man in her life and gave my progress report with Akhmed. I kept it simple. No details but just plans. She loved scheming gist ba…Shei!
Anyways, the thoughts of Friday’s event left me with mixed feelings and no will to get up. Akhmed didn’t call……thankfully.
The cool gentle breeze sneaking into my room gradually turned violent and soon the showers came down in torrents. Blinds down, Tessy climbed back up and we snuggled.
The shrieking distant doorbell had me jerking up and then taking slow breath. Tessy too sat up and then ran to the door. Stretching and yawning, it was 12:00 noon. Uche was here for Sunday lunch.
“Madam” her small voice called out as I approached the door. I giggled.
“Madam, I dey come” I replied in another yawn. Tessy was exercising her waist already. Wagging wildly.
“Shakira, move” I said to Tessy while I made to open the door.
The door opened to a traditionally dressed Uche looking gorgeous and “churchy”.
“Sleepy Head” she said in a hug as she came in and closed the door after her.
“Tessy girl, come here you fluffy being…….mwah mwah” she and Tessy having their private play. The rain had stopped and I felt like having cereals in front of the TV. Uche was going to cook or so. I go help jor………no judge me.
“Babe, that massage enter body plus the rain no gree my comot for bed” I said heading to the kitchen.
“I know na. Madam Slumber” she said with a mocking grin. I had to laugh.
“You no well, I swear” I shook my head.
A bowl of flakes and milk, breakfast served.
“So Akhmed?” she asked taking a bowl too.
“He is fine” another spoon made it to my mouth.
“You like him it seems” it was an indirect question.
I was tempted to tell Uche the truth about Akhmed and I.
Not a good idea.
“Yeah. He is okay” another spoon. Tessy looked hungry. She was always hungry. Big belle Tessy. I stood to make her a plate too.
“And I think he really likes you” she was fibbing now.
“Tah!!!” I playfully rebuked. She laughed.
“What do you want to cook for lunch” I switched the topic. My ‘land-line’ beeped.
It was Akhmed.
Can’t get your image from my head.
You should stop looking so damn good.
Dinner by 6pm. Will pick you up.
I gave a silly smile. Uche cleared her legendary dry throat.
“From Akhmed?” she asked. I raised my eyes to see her studying me. I laughed.
“May Amadi-oha close your throat forever” And we laughed.
She left with Tessy after we decided to eat out through the coming week by 4pm.
No one was in the mood to cook. I was left alone for the remainder of the evening.
I called Akhmed. He picked on first ring.
“Yes Didi” he replied lazily.
“You good? Got your dinner text. Can’t make it but I will be sending an equally engaging female” I said in a laugh. It was a joke.
“Why can’t you make it?” he didn’t find my humor amusing.
“Oh well, I made plans for a date out during the week” I lied. I just didn’t want him planning another run-in with his father soon.
“Alright then. We need to discuss the next course of action remember?”
“I know. But I have to think of best ways of meeting him. Neutral grounds maybe? That will not be so easy and quick especially since he is very perceptive and intelligent” I informed.
“That’s why you are Didi Trap right? Shall I expect Uche then or you have got someone else” he teased and I smiled.
“Find yourself a date” to which he laughed.
I was off.
The house suddenly felt empty. I would go for a drive, maybe see Tony at the cabana or just have dinner by myself. Good one.
After a quick bath, I dressed in blue jeans, white tank top and multi-coloured scarf. Sprayed a generous amount of Publication and stepped out to have an evening drive in my black Range Rover Sport; Adamu opened the gate while I drove out and headed to nowhere in particular.
The generous air blowing my hair and scarf felt so good as I raced on the newly constructed Villa highway. The evening was dark already and time told me it was past 7pm.
Suddenly, the unsuspecting newly cleared road from Mpape junction produced a black sedan entering the road with speed. I pressed on the brakes, took a clean swipe off the road to avoid a collision; and found myself racing towards the streetlight pole right in the middle of the road. I pressed the brake slowly and steadily to avoid a somersault. My palms sweating and heart beating loudly.
“Jesus! No! no! no! no! no! no!” I kept muttering to myself after the initial scream. The last press of the brake was just in the nick of time as I closed my eyes thinking the car was going to crash into the well-positioned pole. The car bounced, grunted and then stopped. My heart was pounding so hard and fast I could feel it in my ears.
God!!! Who was that?
I just sat there momentarily lost and gripping the wheels so hard my veins stood out against my pale fair skin. I collapsed against the wheel with head down trying to catch my breath.
It was minutes later before I heard a voice. I was frightened and unconsciously checked for the locks. I was locked in. I lifted my eyes to the face as recognition hit me like a slap. I relaxed my grip and breathing had somehow evened out.
“Are you ok?” I simply looked on.
Recognition hit his face too. He looked shocked.
“Are you ok?” he asked again with a concerned look.
I nodded. My voice trapped in my dry throat.
“I’m so sorry, my driver was not looking properly and drove into the road carelessly. He has since been rebuked” he said with an expression on his face that I did not care to decipher. I was sweating and looking at him blankly.
“Are you ok? Can you say something?” he made to touch my cheek in a caress as I nodded again.
“Come” he said as he made to open the door. It was locked. I unlocked it and discovered my hands were still shaking. Opening the door, he slowly held my hands and stood me up. I was unsteady and before I knew it, he took me in a hug.
I was hugging Ali Bricks.
“It is ok. You are fine” he said repeatedly with a hand petting my hair down to the nape of my neck. My breath heaved and I clung to him to support my shaking legs. That was a close one I thought as I took in his strength. His body was warm, firm and smelt really good. I liked his frame holding me steady with care.
After few seconds, the hug turned awkward and I gently separated from him looking down.
I tried a smile. His glass still perched on his nose. He was in a dark green jumper-meticulously hand stitched embroidery.
“I’m so sorry” he said again. The evening was dark now with the streetlight shining on us.
Only few cars stopped at the scene.
“I’m good” I said through a smile. Then I started giggling. He looked taken back.
“I’m sorry, I just ……phew! I was scared and now, I just find it comical. What are the odds? I pour you a glass and your driver runs me off the road” I said finding it suddenly funny.
He looked at me for a while and then broke into a genuine smile.
“You are one twisted young lady” he said through his smile with an accent. Which? I really didn’t care but I liked it.
“You are one caring old man” I replied. My wit coming back to me in an instant. The crowd that was gathering thinned out as they saw me conversing with the man.
“Madam, are you ok?” it was a concerned man coming closer.
“Yes, I am. Thank you. Just a bit shaken but I am ok” I reassured. He took the word back to the parked cars. Soon they drove off.
“Guess we are even now” I said after the departing man. I doubt if the concerned man recognized who was standing with me.
“What do you mean?” he asked still studying me. Maybe he was expecting me to fall any moment.
“I was going to look for you with a change of clothes to clear my debt” I said sweetly to which he laughed.
“No, I think I owe you. Your life over an attire?” he shook his head.
“I anticipated meeting you someday, didn’t know it was going to be this dramatic, so soon. My name is Didi” I kept the Trap as I extended my slender hands for a hand shake which he took; and then made to enter my car. He almost jumped.
“Wait, you can’t drive in this state” he said lightly holding my elbow.
“Yes, I can” I said in the affirmative.
“I don’t think so” he said as he called the hiding driver over.
“Christian” he roared.
“Yes sir” he ran across and came to stand.
“I am sorry Ma. Please forgive me” he said in a thick Tiv accent.
“It is no problem” I said.
“Collect her keys. Follow us back to her house” he said dismissively. He noticed the reluctance on my part to hand the keys to his driver. He collected the keys and gave the driver who stood still unsure as myself.
“I want to get you home safe. I will feel better” he explained as he led me to his black sedan.
Walking me over to my side, he opened and watched me sit comfortably before closing the door and then took his seat with such command I found myself taken in.
I was impressed. And I liked the man I saw.
“So, where do you live?” he asked turning to face me. I smiled.
“You smile a lot too” he noted obviously wondering why I smile so much.
“I am hungry. I was on my way out for dinner?” I said wanting to spend more time with him.
“That means you are my guest for tonight. I was going to dinner myself” he said as we rode off. The steadiness of the car and the quietness was new to me I found myself getting drawn to this man. I wanted to know him for real. Hold the reins lady…….. Just hold it.
“Ok” I said simply following his lead. If he was quiet, I would be too.
“Do you feel headaches, dizziness?” he asked as we approached a tall building in Central Area.
“No. I feel perfect” I said suddenly feeling shy and little. I never ever feel this way.
“Ok” he said as he drove into a private underground car park after the security guard gave a glance and waved us through. Christian followed with my car.
“I will be right out” he said getting down to open the door for me. He was really interesting.
I came out and we walked to an elevator heading to the penthouse.
The elevator opened to an open space that had only two secluded eating space.
“This is my reserved space for dinner anytime I am in Abuja. The other is for Lanre if he has guest” he explained as we walked through the glass that parted to reveal his lounge. It was a beautiful view and had just a waiter standing at the dinner booth at a secluded corner near the bar and far from the live band platform. The deep cold smell was of faint tobacco and lavender.
“Walter, let us have bottles of cold water please?” he asked politely as we sat down. There was no menu.
“Of course sir” he disappeared.
“No menu. You are going to have to rely on my taste” he said proudly at my raised eyebrows. Water? Okay o!
“I hope your taste does not bore me” I said with another smile.
“You have a nice smile. Excellent white teeth and luscious lips” he said as a nerd would.
“Thank you” I held my lips together to avoid breaking into a shy smile and he laughed.
He arrived with the bottles and then he spoke in a language I have never heard of. Walter nodded and disappeared again.
“What was that?” I asked as he made to pour me a glass.
“I said to bring same dinner for you and I” he said as he poured. He toasted and we drank. The water had a faint fresh lemon taste. It also was slightly sweetened. This no be water jor.
“This is definitely not water” I said after the first drink to which he smiled and nodded.
“You don’t like it?” he asked
“It is fine” I replied with another smile. I could stop myself from smiling.
“I am an old man with an old taste. I came up with the recipe for my water and I think I should have it branded too. Just don’t want to be offered my secret recipe in an eatery for instance. Moreover, a beautiful lady has just told me it is just fine” he said making a face and I chuckled shaking my head.
“I didn’t say I did not like it Mr Bricks” I corrected.
“I think it is because you don’t like it that you find it just fine” he replied with a glint.
Walter set the table and disappeared again.
“Looks really good” I said looking at the food that obviously wasn’t the norm. Maybe it was his recipe………make I no run mouth.
“Here” already offering me a piece.
“Oh” I opened my open to take the bite. It was so soft and delicious I made to get my cutlery ready. Well-cooked lobsters with hot spice.
“You like it?” he asked licking his fork after I had just taken the piece. This man dey seduce me or what? Why lick his fork?
“I love it” I studied him.
“Alright then let’s enjoy our dinner” he said in between mouthful after he gave his plate a good lift.
“So, what do you do?” he asked after the first few forks.
“I sell properties. My partner values them. I get to suggest ways of financing developments and how to get the end product to user” I said offhandedly. With Ali Bricks, I didn’t feel the need to go all big to impress him.
“Which ones have you sold?” he asked as in if he was really interested. He chewed excellently.
“The Rock plaza, BBD memorial centre, The Blue Boat. A couple of others” I said in a thought.
“Impressive. Are you working on any project now?” he asked.
“No, just need to dispose of The Sky-Jet. It has some encumbrances though and a buyer just wasn’t interested in taking it up” I said stopping to take a sip.
“Do you think it is a good investment?” he asked as he continued his food.
“Yes. Buying at the offered price with the encumbrance would be worth it. The value would triple in the next 2 years” I said with less seriousness. Surprisingly I did not want to sound smart.
“I want to buy it” he stated as he signaled Walter to come take his plate. He was a fast eater.
“You have not seen the property and you want to buy it?” I asked smiling in disbelief.
“I owe you, don’t I?” he spoke in another language to the waiter.
“What now? The food not good?” I asked suspiciously.
“It is good. I want just vegetables now and of course impress you” he teased
“So when can I see this property?” he asked as Walter magically appeared with a plate steaming with semi-cooked vegetables and little balls that I was dying to taste.
“Here” he gave me a taste of the balls. It was flour but tasted like minced meat.
“You like?” he asked again licking after me. Why did he do that?!
“It’s lovely” I said politely all the while itching to ask him to stop licking his cutlery after me.
“Shall I order a plate for you?” he asked already beckoning Walter.
“No, No. I’m fine” I drank a little.
“You will see it personally?” I asked referring to the sky-jet.
“I will see it. I was just coming from a site. Need some few hectares for a project” he said offhandedly referring to the where Christian had driven out from.
“Great. That would be an honor” I said dropping my cutlery.
“I will be out of Abuja tonight. However, I will be back on Thursday evening. Can I see it Friday?” he asked.
“Yes, Friday is fine”
“Desert?” he asked.
“Thank you” I shook my head. His phone rang. He spoke another language into it and he was off in an instant. Akhmed must have gotten that from him.
“I am sorry but I am running late. I need to be at the airport to meet with a business partner and fly out too” he said immediately he got off his phone.
“It is a shame I can’t take you home” he continued.
“I am fine and totally satisfied. I think I can drive myself home” I replied with smiles.
“Alright. My card. Please call me as soon as you get home” he said handing me a card that shone.
“Will do”. He stood up while I made to get up too. he helped move the seat back.
Walter was at the table in an instant.
“Good night Mr Bricks” he greeted pleasantly.
“Good night Walter. How’s Gina?” he asked passing him an envelope.
“She is doing fine. Thank you” he said beaming with smiles.
“Have a good evening Ma’am” he greeted.
“You too. And thank you for a good meal”
And down we went. Christian was waiting for me with the car in the private car park.
Ali stood while I entered my car with a smile. Helped my close my door and I shook my head, one last look. He waved and I drove off totally happy. I felt so good I played my happy track all the way home.
It was 9:05pm when I got to my house.
Adamu opened the gate and quickly ran to tell me that Akhmed was parked in too.
“Okay. Thank you” I said my mood dampening. What did he want now? Mostly, I can’t work like this. I was going to tell him that and start changing my apartment at random. That’s the beauty of owning a couple of luxurious flats. Or maybe I should go to Lagos for few days while I wait for Ali to come back.
I didn’t finish the thought before his fresh face popped.
“Hey you” I said weakly getting down.
“Had fun with him?” he asked blocking my space as I came down with an intense look that had me perplexed. He was referring to my ‘booked’ dinner date of course. He wasn’t going to believe our luck. Meeting his father that way surely was a pure luck.
Wait till I tell him who my dinner date was I thought happily.
“You bet I had”. I said looking up at him with mischievous smile and dancing eyes.
The next incident will forever be stamped in my memory.
The quick holding of my hips, pushing me to my car for support and abruptly planting a well-thought out smouldering kiss had me shocked for few seconds and sealed all words on my dinner date with his father.
What the hell?
His breathing evened out but he held me there breathing into my ears.
“Kiss me Didi” he said in controlled breath. My heart was beating. I was confused.
“What are you doing?” I asked quietly. Relaxing my tensed hand. My heart beating faster.
“I can’t stop thinking about you. The thought of you having dinner with someone else, smiling with him torments me. I can’t and will not have you with any man” he brushed his lips against my quivering lips. Pressing against me. Was he seducing me? Oh Didi! Of course he was.
Wetin this boy dey talk so? So what of him papa?
“Stop” I made to free his hand and escape from his arms but I was silenced. The gently intensifying kiss got me in dilemma. Should I get into in? I thought as he continued the gradually pleasurable assault.
“Stop thinking Didi” he deepened. That was all it took. I kissed him back, his hands pulling me closer, taking me all in as he massaged the back of my neck. I succumbed and actually got into it.
As I raised my arms to his shoulders, Ali’s face came into focus. I needed to give him the call I promised. I stopped suddenly and dropped my hands. He sensed it and stopped too.
“What’s wrong?” he asked as if he didn’t know that this could complicate matters. I am a gold digger not an official S**T.
I needed to read the by-laws and codes of conduct ASAP. Re-orientate myself.
“I can’t do you and your father Akhmed. I’m sorry but we have got to get this out of the plan” I said escaping my fixed position and heading to my door.
“Why?” he asked roughly following me. His breathing still heavy.
“Because I’m going to marry your father remember? This is not some movie” I said waving my fingers.
“I want you. I don’t want you continuing with the plan. The deal is off” he stated as if he was some kind of god and I was to instantly do as he wanted. I lost it.
“What do you mean the deal is off?” I barked turning back.
“I mean you don’t get married to my father” he barked back. Coming to stand in front of me face to face.
“Who do you think you are Akhmed? Calling the shots like some higher power. It was Didi I want you to marry my father, now it is Didi I want you not to marry my father” I said sarcastically imitating him.
“Well, I have got news for you Mister……I’m not some ‘Barbie’ you can play around with. I am a business woman and by God I will marry your father if I can” I walked up the few steps, opened my door and closed it firmly behind me.
“Can you imagine his guts?” I asked no one in particular. Tessy stopped wagging as she sensed my mood.
Gosh…………..Ali’s card was in my car. Now I can’t call him. I angrily walked into my room to pack a bag. I needed a few days in Lagos ǁǁǁ.