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Fola blinked as Sarah shut the door on her way out. She came in, dropped a bomb that left him impressed rather than ruffled and walked out in a classy way. He had to admit that the girl had learnt and had now become a woman. In the midst of his worries, his face formed a smile that acknowledged Sarah’s last few ruthless minutes. Was he proud of whom she had become? Yes. Was he ashamed of who he had turned a once quiet shy ornery gal to? No. In all honesty, he knew he was only a fraction of Sarah’s transformation. The girl had always had it in her, she just needed the right push…he gave her that. His mind went back to the day Sarah arrived at the Law firm with three other corps members fresh from the NYSC Orientation camp. They had just been posted to their office but he was sure that the girls didn’t get posted to their law chamber without assistance. They were the best and most successful legal chamber in the country; Fola knew their success could be attributed to his hard work. It would be anyone’s pride and joy to serve coffee at the firm. Fola had stepped into the reception from the elevator after winning a case with his ‘game face’ – smug, cocky smile and waved his hand to acknowledge the cheers that followed when he turned to his left and caught sight of Sarah who had her eyes firmly on him. He, of course, shot her a smile and walked away. Sarah was always inquisitive, perking into cases, showing up in court with the senior counsels she was attached to and taking down notes. Fola took note of this and in no time, he had asked her to lunch. Dinner followed at his house…precisely, on his bed. He knew what Sarah wanted, he was just a tool to helping her achieve her goals. He wasn’t sure if he wanted the managing partner to retain Sarah after her NYSC programme, but he might have a firm say on that when he finally made managing partner with Mr. Peterside who was bent on keeping it solo. Fola King had his own ambitions, but for now…he would make all the money and fame he could under one of Nigeria’s biggest Legal Practitioners.
Now, he was slightly ruffled. He didn’t like the fact that there might be a slight possibility that Umar might have lied to him. What made the situation distasteful to him was that Sarah and Yemi were ahead of him on this one. If Yemi was snooping around and indeed Umar had played foul, they might be up for another case. Maybe one that still traced back to the old suit. He didn’t particularly like the idea of having to face Yemi again, especially now that the scorned pill might have sunk into her system. The saying ‘Hell hath no fury like a scorned woman’ would be applicable in their situation as he knew Yemi had ‘caught feelings’ for him. That didn’t bother him…he would have been worried if she didn’t start to like him a little more. He won ladies over effortlessly – his smile, his charm, his appearance and his appeal…the only thing missing in his life was the fact that he was yet to lose himself to any woman. He was the orthodox lover, but that was not for the random women in his life to figure. It mattered to only one woman – Mrs King. Maybe he just had not met her yet.
Obi passed Aaima a glass of juice. “I must say I am impressed by your appetite.” He said as he joined her on the sofa in the living room.
“Is that a subtle way for saying, ‘you eat too much’?” she asked with a smile. “Thank you for the juice.” She added quickly before taking a sip.
He smiled as he watched her take and return the glass to the table. “What are you going to do?”
“What about?” she asked.
He cleared his throat. “Your husband. He can’t be the reason you don’t live life.”
She smiled. “I am living. I just had dinner.”
“Yeah, I know…but you know what I mean. I go to work, Fola does too…and whether we like it or not, Fola’s girlfriend would be back from weekend and I don’t know how that’s going to make you feel at his place.” He replied.
She knew he was right. She didn’t get positive vibes from Fola’s girlfriend and she would not risk putting herself under more pressure, but she did have some problems that she couldn’t sort out on her own. She had no means of identification on her or any of her credit cards, if she left…she was going to be stranded. It was only wise for her to stay while she worked out her next move. She needed one. Obi was right. She couldn’t stay here forever.
“Aaima?” Obi called.
She turned to him. “Yeah?”
“Are you lost?” he asked.
She took a deep breath. “I lied to you, Obi. I am not married. I have never been.”
Obi blinked as he stared at her. “Why…why would you lie about something like that?”
“It’s complicated.” She replied.
He sighed. “So, what happened? The gunshot? What’s your story, Aaima?” he asked. He was beginning to get worried about this stranger whom he had now taken liking to. He was worried that he did not know enough about her. His heart didn’t need to know too much but he knew it was the right thing to do.
“Obi?” she called.
He stared at her. “I am listening.”
“I don’t know if I can talk about it yet.” She replied. “It is really complicated.”
He sat up. “If you are in some sort of trouble, I can help you. Fola is one of the best lawyers in town. Trust me, you’ll be fine. But, you have to talk to me. Please.”
“You can’t tell anyone about it…not even Fola.” She said.
Obi didn’t know if he could hide important information from Fola. Not like he wasn’t sure of his strength or wits, but he knew Fola had the relative calm to handle almost any kind of situation. Aaima had a gunshot wound…so it had to be serious. His heart raced as he stared into her eyes. They were waiting for an answer from him. An answer that showed not only support but loyalty. He exhaled.
“You can’t tell Fola, Obi. You have to promise me that. I can’t say anything if I am at risk.” She said.
“Fola isn’t going to put you at risk.” He replied. “On the contrary, he is going to help you if things get tense.” He added.
Aaima’s problem was not that she thought Fola as dangerous. She only felt that his profession might want to force him into digging deep into the case and inasmuch as she wanted justice for her sister whom she never really had any connection with, she wanted to be safe.
The doorbell interrupted her thoughts and Obi smiled faintly. “I guess you would tell me later?”
“I guess…” she replied as she watched Obi go to the door.
Fola walked into the room with Obi. “Hi, Aaima! How was your day?”
“Fine, thank you…and yours?” she asked.
He shrugged. “Oh well…regular. But good. Are you ready to go?”
“Is she home?” Aaima asked before she could stop herself.
Fola stared at Obi before turning to her. “You mean Sarah?
Aaima nodded, unable to bring herself to utter another word. Sarah had issued a subtle threat to her. She wasn’t willing to risk her wrath…even though she had not really done anything to hurt the woman.
“Sarah would be happy to see you.” Fola said with a faint smile. “We should get going so we can grab dinner on the way.”
“Oh we already ate.” Obi replied.
Fola blinked. “Oh…okay. That’s fine.”
Aaima rose to her feet to indicate her readiness to leave Obi’s place. “Thanks a lot for today, Obi.” She said. “I appreciate it.” She added.
Obi pulled out a phone from his pocket. “It’s erm…it’s nothing fancy but you can manage it pending the time you get one. I…I really don’t use it. My phone number is stored on it, you can call me…or not?”
Fola felt a pang in his chest as he watched Obi hand Aaima his spare phone. He clenched his teeth and looked away. He wasn’t meant to feel that way about Obi trying to make a pass at Aaima. It was not as though he liked Aaima…right?
“Thanks, Obi.” Aaima said, taking the phone.
Fola rubbed his palms against his trousers as he stared at Aaima offer Obi a hug. He swallowed. No. He wasn’t feeling comfortable. His heart palpitated on every gaze on Aaima and Obi. He started whistling to ease his unease and hurry up their new found friendship.
“Drive safely, Fola.” Obi said, as they got to the car.
Fola stared at him and then grinned. “Since when did you start wishing me journey mercies?” he asked.
Aaima left them and settled into the passenger’s seat. Fola gripped Obi’s arm as he took him to the trunk of the car.
“Dude, why are you holding me like that?” Obi asked, releasing himself.
Fola smiled. “You like her.”
Obi didn’t reply.
“I…I am not saying it’s a problem. I just think you should know one or two things about her before you start tripping.” Fola continued.
Obi scoffed. “That’s rich coming from you because I don’t remember you seeing Sarah’s parents before you started seeing her.”
“I have no feelings for Sarah. We are co-existing. And that is a totally different case.” Fola replied. “Listen, man, I have no problem with who you see…I am only looking out for you. We still don’t know a lot about Aaima except that she ran away from an abusive husband.” He added.
Obi sighed. “We would know more about her in time. Don’t push it.” He replied. “You guys should get going.” He said, returning to the passenger’s seat to say his goodbye to Aaima.
Fola took a deep breath as he watched them.
Yemi handed Sarah a glass of water. “I still don’t know why you are bent on helping me.”
“Well, you know me…I am just a corps member at the firm but I have big interest in cases and it was through my help that we found that maid. I think if you keep me on your team, we can even find the sister or maybe something interesting about her.” Sarah replied.
Yemi took her seat. “I slept with Fola once.” She said, bluntly.
Sarah stopped drinking the water.
“I figured if we are going to work together you should know everything there is or was between Fola and I.” Yemi started. “Plus, I have no respect for Fola or his emotions, so I want you to know that I am not his biggest fan right now and if by any chance he was involved in the disappearance of Hajjia’s missing sister, I will make terrible noise.” She added.
Sarah swallowed. “You are making me regret coming to you, Yemi.”
“I like to lay my cards on the table. Here they are. I’ll find the missing sister and we are coming up with a suit on kidnapping. Are you in or out?” she asked.
Sarah blinked. Yemi was a popular figure at the Department of Public Prosecution and one she was sure she could learn a lot from. But she also didn’t want to hurt Fola.
“I am waiting.” Yemi reiterated. “I don’t enjoy waiting long.”
Sarah smiled. “I don’t like being threatened or rushed into decisions either.”
Yemi crossed her legs. “You are interesting. I am not surprised Fola is sleeping with you. Anyway, I like you to keep your relationship babble or cackle out of our business and for the record, I am not a big sister that you come crying to when Fola breaks your heart. I hate emotional talk and girly discussions.”
Sarah smiled. “Did Fola hurt you?”
“Stick to reading files and snooping around to get me important information and we’ll get along just fine.” Yemi replied with a forced smile.
Sarah gathered her bag. “I have to get going.”
“Do you love him?” Yemi asked.
Sarah turned towards her. “I thought you didn’t do emotions and stuff?”
Yemi smiled. “Fola doesn’t love anyone but himself…the earlier you learn that…the faster you get out of the illusion of being the Mr. King. I know the name sounds right; but it doesn’t look good on you.”
Sarah swallowed painfully and walked out.
Yemi exhaled and buried her head in her hands.
Sarah would not stop ranting. She could not stop. The lady was still in the house. Fola had not sent her on her way yet. Fola was never going to. She was here to stay. “I can’t believe this is happening to us, Fola.”
Fola took a deep breath. “I have a lot on my plate, not impossible to achieve…but just a lot. Why can’t you just shut up and go to bed?” he asked in a calm tone.
“Because she is in this house!” Sarah yelled.
Fola turned to the other side of the bed. “Sarah, she is resting in the guest room. Let her be.”
“No. This is unfair. You have got to respect my wishes. I don’t want her here.” She replied.
He stared at her. “Are you jealous? Aaima is not your problem. Obi is into her.”
“When has that stopped you?” she asked.
Fola sighed as he got out of bed. “Sarah, go to bed.” He said as he approached the door.
“Are you going to her room?” she asked.
Fola smiled. “Your new association with Yemi must have gotten into your head. Aaima is still here because of some complicated matters and she can’t just leave. I would like to make you feel more comfortable and less uneasy but I can’t. Aaima is here. Get used to it.” He concluded and walked out.
Sarah exhaled as she watched the door shut after him. He was right. Yemi got her worked up. She might not have been faithful to Fola but she adored him. She was honoured to be associated with him. Maybe she was just being paranoid and ought to cut him some slack for doing the thing that any decent human would to someone who needed help. She would just sleep.
Umar stormed into Yusuf’s office. “I can’t find Stone.”
Yusuf stared at him. “There are several stones outside.”
“You know what I am talking about. Stone; our guy.” He replied.
Yusuf smiled. “Your guy.”
“Look, Yusuf, Stone is missing and I can’t even find his partner. They are supposed to be looking for Aaima. We have not heard anything yet.” He said.
Yusuf took a deep breath. “Can you please sit down?”
“I can’t.” he said, taking his seat.
Yusuf smiled at this. “See…it wasn’t so hard after all.”
Umar exhaled. “Stone is missing. He is not answering his phone and that other guy too has gone dark.”
Yusuf nodded. “It’s an occupational hazard in this type of work.”
“What do you mean?” he asked.
Yusuf smiled. “Stone was asking for too much. He wanted to walk…and you know what people who walk do? They talk…and you know what happens when people talk? Others ask questions and questions need answers and right now…we have no answer. So, I did the needful.”
“You killed him.” Umar said, quite stunned.
Yusuf nodded. “He was useless anyway.”
“Why would you just kill him?”
Yusuf shrugged. “Because I don’t like people nosing in my business and this business is important to both of us, so I can’t have that idiot talking too much.”
Umar exhaled. “I don’t know what to say.”
“Are you receiving money?” he asked.
He nodded. “I am going to transfer what’s in her Swedish account to mine.” He replied.
Yusuf smiled. “You are a rich man.”
“I am worried about Aaima.”
Yusuf sat back. “Since we haven’t heard anything yet…maybe she is dead.”
“I would not just assume.” He replied.
Yusuf nodded. “You are right about that. Maybe I should just hire a private investigator and comb the city for her.”
“You should do that. I need to be able to sleep in peace.” He replied.
Umar frowned at this. “What is funny?”
“You mean who? You are funny. I am surprised you want some peace after all you have done.”
Umar banged the table. “Whose side are you on?”
“I am sorry…I just think you need a reality check once in a while.”
Umar swallowed. “You don’t have to always make me feel terrible.”
“Okay.” He replied and turned on his laptop. “Transfer my share to my account in Qatar.”
He fetched his game pad and sat before his Television set. In no time, he had set up the PlayStation and was ready to get his mind off the last few minutes. He knew Sarah would be down in no time to either confirm her suspicions or to continue ranting. He wondered how he got stuck with her. She was trouble. Drama. Sometimes, Magic. Woman. He knew Sarah wasn’t the woman he’d want to raise his daughter, but he just would still have her. He loved her ambitions but still thought she was quite stupid. He wouldn’t be bothered by thoughts of her. There were more important things on his mind; like the talk he was meant to have with Aaima which he couldn’t because Sarah arrived home right about the same time and made a scene on seeing Aaima. Fola had calmed her down and taken her upstairs while Aaima quietly retreated into the guest room. The other pending matter on his mind was how he was going to get a goal past the rigid Chelsea defence he was facing in the game.
“You should have square played that ball.”
Fola paused his game immediately and turned to see Aaima. “You…you know what football is?”
She chuckled. “I am a girl, not an idiot.” She replied, settling into the sofa. “Is your mind even in this match, you seem outplayed. You thinking or something?” she asked. “If you had square played that ball, you’d pick out the defenders and give room for Giroud to do a simple tap-in which we both know is all he is good at.”
He gaped as he stared at her.
“You can close your mouth now.” She said with a smile.
He shut his mouth and smiled. “Do you actually play or do you only do theories?” he asked.
She frowned and shot a smug look at him. “Get the other pad.”
“Sweet!!!!” he screamed, leaping towards the game console to pick the other pad. “Let me guess…Arsenal?”
She smiled. “Chelsea, bro.”
He scoffed. “I hate to break it to you but I hate those rent boys and I am gonna school you on behalf of every loyal Arsenal fan out there.”
Aaima grinned. “Why are you calling us rent boys?” she asked, selecting her squad. “I mean, it’s not our fault we have got a great team.”
“And that’s because of Roman’s money.” He retorted. “You guys would be nothing without him.”
She smiled. “I am a little surprised at that statement, especially because it is coming from you.”
“I don’t get.” He said.
She smiled. “A little bit of sarcasm…it’s for smart people.”
Fola smiled as he stuttered. “You just implied I wasn’t smart.”
“Now, you get it.” She replied with a smile.
He smiled. “Your fingers would be sore after this match.”
“I’d like to do the talking on the pitch.” She replied. “Let’s do this boys!” she chanted.
Fola hissed. “Ya Gunners Ya!” he echoed.
She chuckled. “Are you actually rallying these things up?” she asked as she straightened her fingers in preparation for the game.
“Trust me, it works.” He replied. “Now, I must warn you…Just as you females don’t expect to get any favour from men based on your gender, it won’t apply in this game…I’d play with pride for the whole gunner family and disgrace you on their behalf.” He said. “Don’t beg me to stop when I start smearing your net.” He added with a laugh.
She smiled. “You know that thing they say about talk being cheap?”
“Actually, nothing. They say nothing about it.” He replied.
She shrugged. “Start. You are with the control pad.”
“Here we go, ladies and gentlemen…” Fola announced as he set the game rolling. He stole occasional glances at Aaima who was focused on the screen. “Dude, you are so serious!” he said.
“I am defending my team’s honour.” She replied, without staring at him.
He laughed. “You guys ain’t got no history. What’s there to defend?”
“How does Cech feel about that ball going in?” she asked as she turned to him.
Fola blinked. He had actually conceded a goal. “How did that go in?” he asked.
“Watch the replay.” She replied with a laugh.
Fola stopped and stared at her as he watched her laugh. A smile formed round his face as he stayed in that moment.
Sarah wiped the tear drop that ran down her cheek as she watched Fola stare at Aaima in a way she had never seen him do. She was sure that Fola might have just found a reason to keep Aaima in his life forever and it would not be the PlayStation. It was more than that.
She should have slept.