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Friday, May 25, 2012



                Paul’s disappearance, Jake’s trip to the Bahamas and a new office all in one week has summarised my week. I reached for my bathrobe as I turned off the shower. The weekend for me would be busy with Dora’s coming-out party around the corner. I fetched my laptop and got ready to tidy up my office duties from the week, I would take the time to chat with Jake, if it would not disturb his personal retreat. “Here we go,” I said excitedly as I logged on. There was a light tap on the door. What did Dora want? I thought. “It’s open”
                                “Hi Darlene” she said as she closed the door slightly.
                                “Hello” I replied closing my laptop. She stared at me with a kind smile. “Please sit,” I said quickly.
                                “Thanks” she replied. Dora cleared her throat. “Dad said that I could see you concerning a coming-out event, I really didn’t understand him.”
                                In this case, I did not know how to answer Dora’s question without offending her. “No offence meant, but in this case a coming-out event is for a newly accepted child,” I said touching my nose. Dora swallowed. “I didn’t mean any harm with that,” I said. Dora did not seem to mind too much, she just smiled. Moreover, with every smile of Dora, I felt like an evil big sister who was unwilling to accept my younger sister.
                                “Dora...your coming-out event is to introduce you to other elite families, let me just say what people on the outside will call the top shots” I started. “up until now, I have been Sir Williams’ only child and the socialite only knows me as his daughter, but with recent events, you are also his daughter” I stuttered. I just found it impossible to call Dora ‘sister’. I sighed. Dora cleared her throat as if she meant I should continue with the explanation.
                                “So, that means, you have to be officially recognised by the public so that if in recent times, you are spotted with him, you won’t be regarded as a younger lover, if you know what I mean” I concluded, taking a deep breath.
                                “You are having a tough time accepting me” she started. She got me! I am having a hell of time with that fact. “I won’t say that I don’t understand how you feel, because, I were in Dad’s shoes, I won’t bring me to the house yet.” My Point! If Sir Williams had any iota of kindness, he would not have rubbed Dora on me so early. It seems like my ‘little sister’ skipped on that bad gene from my Dad.
                                “Dora, I will make an effort,” I said honestly. “It might just take a little while”
                                “I understand that you are not the type that lets in on people to soon, but I will be patient because I know that you have got a great person inside that I can’t wait to meet,” she said, standing up.
                Needless to say, Dora could have knocked me over with a feather. She knew how to put those words together. Now I feel like the villain, and the only thing I can think about is getting in her good books. “Look Dora, about the coming-out event, you just tell me when you want it and I will organise it”
                She smiled.
                                “All I need is for you to accept me, who cares about the society?” she replied and left.
                Who is Dora? What is she doing to me? She is inside my head and trying to make me feel bad. I could not work anymore so I turned off the lights and slept.
                                “Breakfast is ready,” Dora announced as she came in.
                This felt too good to be true. Dora was everywhere in my life, I really could not understand why. “Is it morning already?” I asked.
                                “Yup!” she replied. I stared at her with my eyebrows raised. “Potatoes and Scrambled eggs”
                That wowed me. “I will be down in fifteen minutes” I replied, slipping into my slippers. It did not take me ten minutes to join them at the dining hall. Hail the power of Potato and Scrambled eggs! “Morning Dad” I said as I took my seat. “Hey Dora”
                                “How is the plan for the coming-out party?” Dad asked.
                                “I am quite busy in the coming week, we have got a very important meeting this week, so the coming-out party might be next week” I replied, taking a bite of the Potato.
                                “ the Ade-Cole Annual meeting is this week, right?” he asked.
                                “Yes, and I happen to be actively involved, so I am occupied” I replied. “But I will ensure that Dora’s party is a success, you can be sure of that”
                                “You left for work pretty late yesterday, what happened?” Dad asked. Did he have to ask me such a question now? I thought.
                                “I work up late” I replied shabbily.
                If I told Dad that Jake was away at the Bahamas, he would make a joke out of it, and I did not want that done before Dora. He was always of the opinion that I should be detached from Jake.  I hurried my breakfast as I was trying to avoid Dad’s next question which I felt was lurking around his mouth.
                                “Why didn’t Jake pick you?” he asked.
                This is what I did not want. I was immediately saved by my phone, which rang out loudly to interrupt our breakfast. I dashed into the hallway to pick the call. It was Dare’s. “Morning Darlene” he said. “Good morning” I replied. “If it is not too much of a trouble I will like to meet you over lunch,” he said. That sounded forthright. “Is it really important?” I asked. “It’s just lunch, but you can cancel out if you want to, I thought you might want to hang out” he replied. “No thanks, I would be busy around that time”
                I retired to my bedroom and got ready to have my bath. Why did Dare want to have lunch with me anyway? “I thought you might want to hang out” I mimicked. Whom did he think would be his amusement instrument or play toy? I have to start my driving lessons effectively. Jake’s absence made me feel useless, and I have to put an end to it. I called a driving school in the neighbourhood and set up an appointment for twelve noon.
                By twelve noon, I stood before my teacher.
                                “Welcome to our driving school” he said, leading me to the car.
                                “Thank you” I replied, trying to catch up with his pace. “Could you please slow down?”
                                “I am sorry, forgive my negligence.” He said, stopping abruptly. “This is your new ride”
                The car was simply an embarrassment. I remember calling Jake’s former car a jalopy, I admit to have exaggerated about the state of Jake’s car, but this car looked all wobbly and afraid to get on the road. “Are you sure about this?” I asked as I paced round the Volkswagen beetle car of the oldest edition. The Yoruba people of Nigeria called the car ‘Ijapa’ because of its resemblance to the animal-Tortoise and its slow movement.
                                “I know you may not like this car because of your status,” he said looking at me.
                                “Excuse me? What do you mean by status?” I asked feeling offended.
                                “It is no news that you are Sir Williams’ daughter and I know that this car might look ridiculous for you to be taking your lessons in, also...”
                                “Look Mr...” I shouted, cutting him off.
                                “Dan, as in Daniel” he replied.
                                “I don’t care whatever your name is, you don’t know me and so you have no right to judge me,” I yelled angrily.
                                “I did not mean to offend you, I am sorry” he replied.
                                “Whatever your intentions were, it didn’t go down well” I replied furiously. My noise must have attracted other teachers at Badmus Driving School that people stared at us.
                I saw a man approaching us. Daniel’s face looked disturbed. “I am so sorry Ms. Williams, what has this boy done?” he asked. I looked at Daniel’s face that wore fear of being punished by his boss. At that moment, I knew I had to make a choice that might either jeopardise his job or keep him there. Yet still, I was genuinely offended and uninterested to continue with the lessons.
                                “I will be back later for my lessons” I replied, clutching my bag to my arm.
                                “Please Ms. Williams, let me send for another teacher,” He begged.
                                “No, I will be back tomorrow, I have to be somewhere else” I replied and left hastily.
                Status or no status I could ride in any car, I was only concerned about the type of car used for training, and I did not feel comfortable with it. Why did he have to talk about my family? I tried not to think about it as I strolled home, but it was almost impossible. As I approached the gate, I saw a tall man speaking to Dora, I could not see him clearly, but I thought he looked familiar. Is that Dare? I thought.





EPISODE 13        
“Dare is making me do the opening speech at next week’s Annual event” I said as I walked into my office.
                Toni looked up with surprise written all over her face. “An intern is never chosen to make such speeches,” she said. “You must be special”
                                “Special?” I asked, as I sat down. What did Toni mean by special? I could argue that I am talented, but my skills haven’t been put to test, so how could Dare guess that I was special? It all boiled down to the thought that Dare liked me. “I think he likes me,” I said.
                                “Oh, well, if you say so” she said, smiling.
                Why did Toni reply with so much surprise? I hope for my sake that she did not think I was below his standard. “Do you think it’s impossible?”
                                “Not that” she said, swirling her chair. “I thought you took so long to notice”
                The Intercom phone rang and Toni picked it. “It’s for you,” she said staring at me. “Dare”. I looked at her strangely; I was just returning from Dare’s office, why would he call?
                                “Hello” I said into the receiver.
                My eyeball widened as I dropped the phone. “Dare has a very important information for me” I said as I walked out smiling. I met Dare outside my office. “I was just on my way to see you,” I said, adjusting my loose collar.
                                “Its fine, I am here anyways” he replied.
                                “Shall we?” I asked.
                                “This way please,” he replied, and motioned to the elevator. “In preparation for the Annual meeting with the board and all, I want to show you to your new office,” he said, as we stepped out of the elevator.
                                “New Office?” I asked. The thought of the new office sent my brain buzzing. Why was he taking me upstairs? The offices upstairs were executive; Dare’s, The Board Room, and an unused office. Every promoted intern had their office on the second floor, why was mine different?
                                “Yes, I know it seems early but I feel that you deserve an office of your own” he started. He stopped in front of the unused office.
                                “Oh…well” I said. I was not excited about the office as I should have been. I was going to miss Mrs Small; she made everything fun for me. “Why is my office on the top floor?” I asked perplexed. “I should be on the second floor with every other promoted intern”
                                Dare sighed. “Darlene…can’t you just stop protesting for once, and follow instructions.”
                                “What instructions?” I asked. “I will miss Toni”
                                “Come on Darlene…This is your office, your responsibility! Don’t shirk it!” he said opening the door.
                I sighed.
                                “Welcome to your office” he said, turning on the lights.
                The office was spacious. I walked over to the large window. “Wow!” I said, staring out of the window. “The view from here is amazing!”
                                “What is it about this office and its view?” Dare asked, as he joined me at the window. “Those were the exact words of Reina when she got this office back then” he added.
                                “Who is Reina?” I asked.
                                “My ex-girlfriend” he replied scratching his head. “She used to own this office,” he added, leaning against the table.
                                “Oh…sorry about that” I replied.
                                “Sorry about what?” he asked. He sighed as he took his seat. “There is nothing to be sorry about, you didn’t even meet her,” he added.
                He was right about that and my pretence spotted. I never met his ex, so why was I pretending to be sorry? I guess I was caught up in the traditional way of saying “sorry” to every unfortunate incident whether one had a good knowledge of it or not. “But why then are you giving me this office?” I asked. “It must remind you of her”
                                “This is business, and in business, personal matters are set aside, this office is yours and it is as far as business goes,” he said, doing his jacket buttons.
                I am not ready to move here. It meant Dare and I would be on the top floor except for board meetings. “Is this office not meant to signify a level of ranking here?” I asked. “And I have just been promoted from my intern status, it doesn’t seem appropriate” I added quickly.
                Dare scoffed. “This is the second time you are challenging my judgmental skills today Darlene,” he stressed. “You are so inquisitive…I am giving you this office because I have always respected you and your records from Law School, I believe you are in the best position to occupy this office,” he answered clenching his teeth.
                Respect? My records from Law School? Where did all that come to play? How did Dare know about my records from Law School? Was he tracking my records? He has the rights to; I am his employee. “Oh…Ok”, I said.  Dare smiled and walked out of the office. I looked at the office and the thought that Dare might be seeing me as a replacement for his ex struck me. “Why did he give me her office?” I thought aloud.
                                “Who is Reina?” I asked Toni as soon as I returned to my office; at least, I have not moved out.
                                “Dare told you about Reina?” she asked looking surprised.
                                “No, he just mentioned her name when he showed me to my new office” I replied taking my seat.
                                “OMG!” Toni exclaimed. “Did Dare give you his ex’s office?” she asked as she came over to my table.
                                “Yes” I replied, staring at my laptop.
                                “You are so lucky girl, every staff in this firm can only dream of being in that office” she started excitedly. At that moment, it seemed as though I was the only one who was not impressed with the office. “It has this amazing view that will take you into another world, the city’s lights come alive in the night and will take you to cloud 9!”
                                “Toni, why did Dare give me his ex’s office?” I asked, cutting off her excitement.
                                “Maybe, he felt it was time that the office got occupied, it had been vacant for more than a year since Reina left the firm” she shrugged.
                                “But, I don’t want to leave here” I said, looking sad.
                                “Oh, Come have to move on, I have to build up new interns, it’s my job” she said hugging me.
                We remained in the hug until Toni broke away. “Mushy stuff, right?” I said. We laughed. “Why don’t I buy you lunch?” I offered.
                                “For sure, with the way things are going, you will be having your first practice Court session in a bit, and before you know it, you are out there battling in our playgrounds” she said grabbing her handbag. “Shall we?” she said. “And to be frank, I am in the mood for some crispy KFC chicken”
                We hung out at KFC until after lunchtime. Toni gave me tips on how to survive with Dare on the top floor. She did admit that Dare could get annoying and I just had to either put on a tough skin or rebuff him. She avoided discussions about Reina; I was interested in knowing the reason why Reina broke up with Dare even though I guessed that he must have put her off with his attitude. On getting back to the office, I decided that I would move to the new office early next week, I wanted a bit of repairs carried out there, like changing the wallpaper and all that. I did not want to smell Reina’s ghost in there.



Friday, May 18, 2012



                Paul was gone! My eyes raced through his bedroom and I found his Phone, I flung his closet open to find it empty. He really was gone! I do not know if this means good news for me, or otherwise. I walked out of his room to meet Dare speaking with the Estate Police.
                                “The neighbours alerted us when they heard gunshots,” The Local Chief said.
                This boils down to the efficiency of the cops in my dear country, Nigeria. If memory serves me correctly, Paul’s riffle went off almost an hour ago, and with the Police arriving at this time, just shows how “efficient” they are. “It was nothing serious I guess” Dare replied.
 “What are you doing in Paul’s apartment?” The Chief asked.
“Checking on a friend,” I said stepping in.
                                “Miss Darlene, you do know you are trespassing, right?” He asked, bringing out his notepad.
                                “Come on Chief, I am friends with Paul and I can check on him” I replied, peering at his paper.
                                “Paul drove out not too long after you left the Estate”, he replied, as he closed the notepad.
                                “He never told me” I shrugged.
                                “I will let you go on the grounds that there are no obvious damages in his apartment, but should he report any damage, you will be liable”, he said and beckoned to the other officers.
                How did he know that there were no damages in Paul’s apartment, he did not even check in. Thoughts floated through my mind as I tried to think of Paul’s getaway. I know that his father is a shareholder at the famous Calabar Resort, “Obudu Cattle Ranch” so that was my best bet. Paul must have left the city. I pushed myself into the leather seat of Dare’s Car and pulled the seatbelt across my chest. I tried not to think too much about Paul as I shut my eyes. I could not sleep! I would have called Paul if not that I found his Phone on the bed while searching for him. It was a clear indication that he did not want to be found. My mind was so muddled up that I almost forgot to appreciate Dare’s support.
                                “I am so sorry for putting you through this entire mess,” I said trying to avoid his gaze.
                                “Its fine” he smiled.
                I was not comfortable with the smile. It had the “I got you in the bag” revelation. I sighed.
                                “Give me your home address,” he said, slipping a disc into the Disc Player.
                                “You have done more than enough for me; I will be fine at the next stop” I replied. The thought of listening to Neyo in his car made me sick to the stomach. 
                                “The next Bus won’t be arriving until 5pm, let me save you the stress”, he said, adjusting the volume.
                                “I will be fine, please let me off at the next stop”, I insisted.
                                “I insist”, he sounded firm.
                                “But Dare…”
                                “No Buts! I will take you home”
                Dare pulled up in front of my gate.
                                “Thanks Dare” I said, releasing the seat belt.
                                “You are welcome”, he replied, turning off the engine.
                                “Do you mind coming in for some refreshment?” I said, stepping out.
                                “Sir Williams house?” he asked with his eyebrow fully raised.
                                “My Dad is really cool; you should meet him outside the courtroom,” I said, stuttering between the sentences. I didn’t sound convincing.
                                “I’ll take a pass on that today, maybe some other time”, he replied, and drove off.
I sent an SOS message to Jake as soon as I walked into the house. I tripped as I opened the door; there were bags here and there. What was going on? I thought.
                                “Hey Darlene” Dad said as he joined me in the hallway.
                                “Hello” I replied, staring at the bags before me.
                                “They belong to Dora”, he replied, taking a bag out of my way.
                                “How much luggage does she have?” I asked, as I pushed one aside.
                                “They just got here today, I guess she didn’t bring all at first”, he replied, moving the bags aside.
                                “Already getting comfortable I presume,” I said and climbed the stairs.
                                “I need you to plan Dora’s coming-out party,” Dad said.
                                What was Sir Williams thinking? That I would plan a party for his long lost daughter, hell no!  I was not ready to be treated like the Prodigal Son’s brother, maybe I will make for the sister version. I returned to the hallway.
                                “I have work to do Sir” I replied showing off my briefcase.
                                “I understand the fact that you are busy but you just have to take time out of your schedule” he replied with a smile.
                                “I recently joined Ade-Cole and I haven’t been the best staff in their records, do you think I will easily get a day or two off?” I asked bemused.
                                “You can do this if you want to” he replied, leaving me standing in the hallway.
                I did not like the “if you want to” position. It felt impulsive. I retired to my bedroom hoping to hear from Jake soon. I was lost in wonderland until I heard my phone buzz me back to reality.
                                “Hello” I said into the receiver.
                I had a brief conversation with Jake. He would not be available; he had to leave for Bahamas urgently. The news saddened me. Who would plan Dora’s party with me? I thought. Maybe I was selfish, but Jake said he wanted to go on a personal retreat. “What a freak!” I almost heard myself say as I dropped the phone. What sort of a retreat would be done in the Bahamas? Jake is such a fun-freak! He would have had no retreat if he were a busy man! I almost screamed in disappointment. What unsettled me was my best friend was going away for some “retreat” and I had a party to plan, loneliness around the corner. I was saved from my sorrow by “sleep”.
                                “Hi” I heard a soft voice and a light tap.
                Why did Dora seem like an angel?
                                I strained my eyes as I stared at her. “What do you want?” I asked, pushing myself against the pillow.
                                “Dad sent me to fetch you for dinner” she replied.
                                It was almost 8pm; I had fallen asleep thinking about Jake. I just realized Dora said “Dad”. My eyes popped. “Tell him I’ll pass”
                                “But, you must be hungry”, she insisted.
                                “I’ll be fine, I lost my appetite”, I replied honestly.
                The truth is, I have been feeling bad since coming from Paul’s and to cap up a disappointing day, Jake disappeared to Bahamas. How more messed up could my day get? All I wanted was for a new day to come. I sighed as Dora shut the door after her. I slumped back into my bed waiting for tomorrow.
                                “Morning Toni”, I said as I slid into my chair.
                                “Morning Hun” she replied as she handed me a cup of coffee.
                                “Thanks Toni, you are the best,” I said as I sipped.
                                “Rough day yesterday?” she asked, staring at the wall clock.
                                “You don’t wanna know.” I arrived at work some minutes to nine this morning, makes me officially late. “Lagos traffic hit me” I replied, carefully placing the coffee cup on my desk.
                                “Didn’t your chauffeur get you here?” she asked, with a grin.
                                By chauffeur, she meant Jake. “He left for Bahamas this morning” I replied, turning on my laptop. Not having Jake around didn’t help me, I have not completed my driving lessons, really hadn’t put much effort to it, been busy here and there. I had to join the Lagos City Bus “BRT” this morning, and to make matters worse; I had to stand up for the elderly woman who joined the bus late.
                                “Bahamas?” she echoed. “He must be a very busy guy,” she said peering through her glasses.
                                Toni meant to mock Jake by saying he is a “busy guy”. “Have fun mocking” I said, as I smiled.
                                “Oh! Dare said you should report to his office when you arrived” she said, covering her mouth with her hand. “I’m so sorry for saying it a bit late,” she added.
                                “Now what am in for?” I asked, looking concerned. I knew better than to expect any response from Toni. Dare had witnessed the entire fiasco with Paul, and I sincerely prayed that it would not affect my professional ratings. I mean, personal life should stay personal. Right?
                                “Good morning Dare,” I said, as I stepped in.
                                “Morning Darlene, Please sit,” he said, motioning to a chair.
                                “I don’t know if you are aware of this yet, but the firm is having its annual meeting with the board and CEO next week Friday”, he started.
                Now, I could be relaxed. It did not involve the incident with Paul from yesterday.
                                “I was wondering if you would mind reading the opening speech at the ceremony,” he suggested.
                I did not know if I was up for it, which included meeting all the forces that controlled the Ade-Cole dynasty. It was not as if I had any problem relating with the society’s top guns, because I also came from the city’s elites but I had a feeling that I am been rushed into major duties. “Don’t you think there are more qualifying people to handle such?” I asked.
                                “Are you questioning my judging skills?” he asked, sounding offended.
                                “No, but I feel that it’s happening so early, I am just an intern here” I replied.
                                “Nothing is happening so early here, I make the decisions around here”, he resounded.
                                “Okay.” Now Dare was acting so firm, and that was something about him that I did not understand, he was able to switch from “normal to annoying” in a split. “Is that all?” I asked, standing up.
                                “Yes” he replied, staring at his laptop.
                                I reached for the door.
                                “Hey! I hope you don’t think I am trying to hit on you,” he asked, staring at me.
                                I scoffed. “Never” I replied and walked out.
                It was obvious that Dare Ade-Cole liked me! As in ‘like-like’, if you know what I mean.