Femi was on a long call with his mother when Idara walked in with a bowl of basmati fried rice and salad from Monalisa’s place. She carefully placed them before him, his eyes dancing around her face.
“Mom, I will be in America for Christmas, so that you can let me breathe,” he exhaled annoyingly and went on. When he finally hung up the call, he called Idara who was done setting his food.
“You don’t look bright these few days Miss Idara,” he commented as he spooned rice into his mouth, chewing carefully.
“Nothing Mr Femi,” Idara replied calmly.
Slowly, he wiped his hands with a serviette and turned to her, staring at her admiringly. “You know you’re a beautiful girl. So don’t act in a manner that will make me yell at my beautiful assistant,” he said.
“I am fine Mr. Femi,” she said again. Idara couldn’t find the nerve to explain to Femi that the words he used on her the other day hurt her so badly. So she carefully swallowed what she wanted to say and was about asking him if she could schedule his meeting with Harlibutton after he finishes his lunch, but then his phone rang. He sighed and then said lightly, “Excuse me.”
“Yes mom?” he said quickly, chewing the rice slowly. He quickly put the phone on speaker, placed it by his side and continued eating.
“Zoe called me and was complaining that you hardly pick your calls, you don’t reply her messages and you don’t return her calls…”
“Femi, Kilo n sele o? You know that this girl is beautiful, other men shouldn’t take her from you please.”
“Mom, hold on.”
“I am hearing you.”
“Did I propose to Zoe? Did I promise to love her?”
“Pa enu e mo!”
“Mom… mom please this isn’t the olden days were mothers marry wives for their sons. I am not in this thing you and the Zoe girl are trying to do.”
“Every year will eventually turn to olden days Femi. Listen, I sent you pictures of her going to a beach with her friends in Miami. Did you see how her skin glowed? And those fine straight legs…”
“Mom, I have people coming in to see me now. I will talk to you later,” he said and hung up the call.
Idara suddenly poured out all the laughter she’d held in since the conversation with Femi and his mother started. She laughed, twisting her head to one side.
Femi couldn’t breathe, he’d never heard Idara laugh before. It was another new aspect of her, like a temper. And it was even more intriguing. Then he chuckled.
“My mom is a drama queen,” he smiled at her, admiring her natural face. “You didn’t do any makeup on your face today?” he asked.
Idara looked at him, amazed. She was surprised that he noticed that she didn’t apply anything on her face.
“I woke up late Mr. Femi, I had to hurry. I didn’t have the time to apply makeup on my face,” she said with a smile.
“Oh, I think your face is cuter without lipsticks and all that,” he said.
His phone rang again and he looked at it. It was Tiana who had called. “Hello?” he said calmly, this time the phone wasn’t on speaker phone.
“Boss, she is here now,” she said.
“Okay, I will send my assistant to come pick her,” he said hurriedly and hung up. “Em,” he muttered, checking his time, “you will go to Tiana’s place and take someone to Four Points,” he said.
“Now, Mr Femi?”
“Yes now. You’re going with my G-wagon. Get the keys from Fayose.”
Idara nodded and hurriedly left for Mr. Fayose’s office.
She drove hastily to Tiana’s place, thinking about how happy her boss was today. He’d openly told her that she was beautiful and she’d wondered what had come over him.
When she got to Tiana’s place, a young girl in a distressed jeans and a cropped pink blouse walked down to the car. One side of her hand was darkly tattooed with the image of a scorpion. Her gold luscious hair falling to her waist.
Idara wondered if this is the person her boss had sent her to. She was knocking on the side mirror of the car, so Idara immediately wound it down, gasping at the lady’s beautiful face. “May I help you?” Idara asked.
“Tiana and I saw you from upstairs. Femi sent you right? This is another of his cars?” the lady asked. Idara nodded.
“You’re the one I am picking?” Idara asked.
“Yes please,” the girl said.
“Okay then,” she said and unlocked the car doors for her. When she got into the backseat, Idara looked disappointed.
“Please come to the front,” she said nicely to the lady.
“No, I am fine here. Femi likes me here,” she said bluntly and took out her iPhone eleven, and started taking selfies and laughing.
Idara realized through her several phone calls that she was Femi’s girlfriend. She was surprised that her boss would go out with a girl who looked so spoilt. She had always imagined his girlfriend to be simply classy and decently dressed.
“Hey, Femi called me and apologized o. He is taking me to Four Points to make it up to me today. See how I might end up marrying this man like play, like play,” the girl said, laughing in a manner that irritated Idara.
When they got to Four Points, she ordered Idara to come open the door for her.
“The door is open,” Idara replied.
“I know the doors are open, come down and open the door for me.”
“I can’t do that please. Get down from the car, I have meetings to attend,” she said rudely.
The girl sighed, opened the car door, then she paused.
“I am simply taking it lightly today because today is the first time I am seeing you. The next time you try this, you might lose this job.”
Idara shook her head, bitter and hurt by her words. She gave her a stern look as she walked to the entrance of the hotel, and she thought, if someone like that had just said such silly words to her in Uyo, where her friends were present, she would have gotten badly insulted.
She sighed and called Femi and told him that he’d dropped the girl at the hotel.
“I know. You can go back to the office and represent me in all the meetings,” he said and hung up the call.
Idara drove back to the office that day, wishing Toke’s phone was going through so she could tell her of her bad day. She had just driven into the office when Toke called with a strange line.
“Hey bestie,” Toke said.
“I didn’t bother calling, I know your numbers won’t be going through.”
“Oh my dear, you won’t believe that the contract Total gave to our company is lasting till January.”
“Meaning that I won’t even be going to Ibadan to see my parents at Christmas.”
“Yes o. Tomorrow is 29th November, our work started just few days ago. And it’s taking two months.”
“Oh God… “
“And you know Femi never told us before we left.”
“Don’t mind that one. I just hope he will let me go for Christmas. I heard him telling his mom over the phone that he will be spending Christmas with her in Atlanta or so.”
“Yes, he spends Christmas outside Nigeria all the time.”
“I really want to go home and see my mom and sister. Buy them phones so we could be doing video calls when I’m back to Lagos.”
“How is work?” Toke asked, feeling excited and ready to hear all what her friend had been doing.
“Today started well, until Femi asked me to go pick one useless girl that insulted me today.”
Toke laughed. “Femi has a girlfriend?”
“I just knew today that he does. A very rude girl.”
Toke laughed again. “Sorry about that. You know you’re his assistant, you’re going to see a lot because you’re closest to him now.”
The two women talked for a while over the phone and then when Femi’s call came in, Idara abruptly hung up the call and answered his.
“Hello Mr Femi?” she said with a shaky tone, anxiously waiting for him to scold her for talking badly at his girlfriend.
“There is a meeting at Lagos Oriental I want you to attend now,” he said.