I went to my mother and held her in my arms as she sobbed. I felt sober and weak about the news. I had pity for Mrs. Bola who had been our cook for many years. No matter how busy she was in the kitchen if I wanted her to prepare any dish for me she would not hesitate to abandon what she was doing to cook for me. If I send her to the supermarket, she won’t waste time and be back before my eyes. I will never forget the day I brought a woman home on a Saturday breezy afternoon. She was the only one in the house. After my session with the chick, I went to the kitchen to get some food. She served, looked straight into my eyes and said I deserved to be happy. I neglected Mrs. Bola words, did not bother to ask her why she made that statement to me. I only thought why she would think I was not happy.I consoled my mother and took her to her room to meet my father. I told him of the unfortunate news and he was very upset about it. I left them to my room, called Hope. She was shocked to hear the news. I ended the call, switched off my phones, undressed, and had a cold bath. After that, I put on my pajamas and lay on the bed not having the appetite to eat dinner.
The following morning, after breakfast on my way to leave the house to work, I went to meet my mother in her bedroom. She was dressed up with no cosmetics on her face.
“Are you going out?” I asked her.
“Yes. I want to go see Mrs. Bola. The husband was a Muslim, he will be buried today.”
I gave a nod. “I understand.”
“I will send her some money to her account and also call her later. My schedule is tight today. I have two meetings and I will be going to the two filling stations we have here in Lagos for inspection.”
“I understand. Your father called Hillary this morning to check on the bakery in the afternoon. I will call you later to give you an update on what is going on.”
“No problem. Dad is waiting for me outside and we are going to the office together.”
She touched me by my right hand. “Please take care of your father. Remember he is not getting any younger and always check up on him.”
“Is there something I should know?”
She dropped down her hand. “No. Drive carefully.” I pecked her on the forehead and left.
We arrived at the company and my father and I went straight to the conference room where we hold our meetings. It went for forty-five minutes before I moved directly to my office. My secretary informed me she had seen a lecture class not far from my home for Ebube. She has paid for the fee and the maid would start the following week. She wrote down the address on a sheet of paper for me and left to her desk. I went through some files before I dashed out with my manager to the destination of my father’s two filling stations. After that, I went to my father’s restaurant to have a quick lunch. I called my mother to ask how things were.
She informed me the burial was over already and Mrs. Bola was with her husband’s relatives for a short meeting. After the call, I went to another meeting. I was so stressed up I forgot to call the minister’s P.A to find out the latest. It was the call by the minister himself that made me remember. I was surprised and lucky to hear from him and received the good news that my deal was accepted. I had a schedule to see him in two days’ time for the signing of the contract before proceeding with the contract. I thanked him and promised not to fail him. The name of the vehicle, model, and colors they wanted were sent to my email. Melissa called to check up on me, asked how my day was going. We planned to see each other during the weekend and she was missing eggplant. I sent Blessing to send two hundred thousand naira to our cook’s account. She called me after receiving the alert, thanking and praying for me on the phone. I wished her well.
I had no plans to order for the cars oversees. I was not a car dealer and I do not have the desire to become one. I gave a call to a car supplier whom my father buys from before Michael started his own business. I informed him of the brand and numbers of cars I wanted. He was not having up to the numbers of cars and I had an idea for him to check from other dealers in the country he knew and trusted. He was going to check and call me back for details.
At 3pm, a knock came on my door and I gave the order for the person to come.
“Mother!” I said surprised to see her as she opened and entered. “What are you doing at the office?”
She did not answer my question. “How are you Hector?” she asked and sat down opposite me.
“I’m good. I hope there’s no problem?”
She shook her head. “No. I came to check on your father before going home.”
“Since when did you start checking up on dad?”
“Can’t I check on my husband again?” she asked me.
I smiled at her. “Of course you can. How is Mrs. Bola holding on?”
Her facial expression turned blue. “She won’t be working for us anymore.”
“What!” I exclaimed in disbelief. “Why won’t she be working for us anymore? Did any of our family members offend her? Why did she not tell me when she called me over the phone?”
“Hector, one question at a time. The meeting they had was not yet over when she called you.”
“What did the late husband’s relatives discuss with her?”
“She will be moving back to the village to stay at the family house with the children.”
I widened my eyes. “What nonsense! Mrs. Bola agreed to that?”
“Yes she did.” she replied me solemnly. “She had no choice and it was one of her husband wishes before he died.”
“Then he must have been a selfish man before he died.”
“Hector!” she uttered my name.
I looked away from her direction. “Mom I am angry. Do not blame me.”
She sighed. “I understand how you feel about this. I know you are going to miss her, especially her food.”
I smiled. She was right about it. “So what’s the way forward?”
“She will bring someone better for us before she travels.”
I was stunned. “Don’t tell me you agreed to that?”
“Of course I did.”
“But you don’t know the kind of person Mrs. Bola will bring?”
“Mrs. Bola has been working for us for the past ten years and for that she cannot bring someone that will be untrustworthy. She even told me I would like the person more than her. She cannot give me a bad person.”
I was irritated with the suggestion and surprised at my mother for accepting it. “And you think she will also be a good cook.”
“Yes. I was told she has a small local restaurant not far from where she lives.”
“What happens to her restaurant when she starts working for us?”
“Mrs. Bola said she might close it or her daughter will take over.”
“She even has a daughter?”
“Yes. Do you have a problem with that?”
“Yes, a big one. I do not want another cook. We will continue to order from Chef Thompson or our own restaurant. I ate there today and the food was good. Hillary will have to learn how to cook. I don’t know how she will do it but I will give her a month to learn, if not, something will happen.”
My mother stared at me, searching my face. I had it in mind she knew I was very furious and when my temper had risen to a certain level, it cannot be controlled.
She spoke. “Have you forgotten you will be married next month?”
“I don’t care! Hillary must learn whether anybody likes it or not.”
“I know you are not happy about this but it is my house and my decision is final. I will employ the woman Mrs. Bola will bring.”
“When?” I asked angrily.
“On Friday or Saturday.”
“Well, I don’t intend to be home on that day. I no longer care about Hillary’s inability to boil water.”
Her eyebrows went up. “What is it Hector? Why are you angry about this?”
“You once told me we should be careful with what goes into our stomach. You can’t trust a stranger you have not met.”
“I understand what you mean but if I don’t like the woman and the food she will prepare on that day for me to taste I won’t employ her.”
“Should I interview her myself?”
“No!” she answered sharply. I will do that.”
“If you say so.”
She rose on her feet. “You never can tell you might like her.”
“I won’t. Are you going home?”
“Yes. I will go to your father’s office. We will go home together.”
I stood up and put my left hand inside my pocket. “These days, dad has been going home early from work.”
“It is his company, he can go home anytime he likes.”
“I know but it’s unlike him. He does not joke with his company.”
“That’s why he has you my son. He believes you will handle it properly without his presence.”
“Without his presence?” I asked in a confused tone. “What do you mean by that?”
She sighed tiredly. “What I mean is, when he eventually give you his empire, you will take care of it.”
“Of course I will. I will never bring his investments down. Dad has been there for me, he gave me things I never expected. To allow it go down the drain I will be a bastard, an outcast. I promise you and father, I will never disappoint.”
“I know. You are your father’s son and I love you very much.” She hugged me and pecked me on my fore head. “I will see you at home later.”
“See you at home.” I said and opened the door for her to leave.
At 4:30pm, I purposely called Michael to greet him. I knew he would use the opportunity to thank me and ask for any expensive wine I wanted.
“My chairman, you called me at the right time,” he said. “I was supposed to call you yesterday but I was very tired. Thanks for what you have been doing for me. The man you sent bought three cars worth seven million naira each. He will pay in two weeks’ time.”
“Is this a joke?” I asked pretending not to know anything but deep in my heart, I was the master of the game. “I don’t know what you are talking about. I did not send anyone to you yesterday.”
“Hector, tell me you are joking.”
“I never sent anyone. I have not given my special card to anyone for the past one month."
“But he had your special card. He wanted to call you in my presence but I declined knowing fully well how we operate. I am talking of twenty one million naira.”
“Well, am sorry, I don’t know what you are talking about.”
“I have been duped!” he screamed on the phone, in chaos.
“Relax Michael, please relax.”
“How can you tell me to relax? I have to contact the police about this. I will go to the nearest station close by.”
“What can the police do?” I asked without fidgeting. My pal has been into 419 businesses for a very long time and he has done deals worth more than one hundred million without them catching him red-handed, I had no reason to fidget because the police was going to get involved.
“Informing the police is one step at a time. I will call the commissioner and tell him about this tomorrow morning. Hector I will call you later, I am not in my right senses at the moment.”
“No problem, I will call you too.” I ended the call, set my phone on the desk and relaxed my back on my chair, and smiled ear to ear.
“Will Hillary like me?” Slim and good-looking Ibrahim spoke to Peter at Queen’s Royale waiting for Hillary.
“Of course she will.” he replied and looked at his wife’s face and smiled. In few seconds Hillary walked up to them in a body hugged, short red gown with blue high heels and she carried a blue red purse. Hope stood to hug her, Ibrahim shook her hands and she went to raise Peter up, hugging and deliberately pressing her boobs against his chest. She sat down close to her sister.
Hope whispered into Hillary’s right ear. “This is 7:55pm not 7pm as we agreed.”
She gave her sister a grin. “You never told me Ibrahim looks so much like a ganbari despite his long stay abroad.”
“Keep your voice low.” Hope said. “You are never satisfied and you always criticize. Do not believe your beauty will last forever. Make the right choice now so you won’t have regrets.”
“And you think the mallam sitting in front of us will be my choice? Will make me regret? Never!”
“Then let’s call it a day.”
Hillary rose on her feet.
Peter stared at her surprised at her move. “Is there a problem?”
“It just occurred to me that I have a relevant thing to do. I can’t stay any longer.”
“Yes.” she replied.
“Did I do anything to offend you?” Ibrahim answered in a modulated tone. “We have not been properly introduced.”
“That may be another time, I have to go.”
Intense anger ran across Hope’s face. She said nothing but her gaze was fixed on her younger sister.
Peter erected up from his chair. “Hillary is there anything we have done to make you change your mind?”
“I’m so sorry Peter, I have to go.”
“Okay.” he said.
She walked away from them and smiled on her way out. It was part of her plan to behave that way. She would call Hope to apologize and use the opportunity to visit Peter in his office to express regrets of her actions and she will dress sexy to entice him.
The couple apologized for Hillary’s behavior to Ibrahim. He told them not to worry. They went ahead to order for some delicacies and talk without letting the attitude of Hillary spoil their mood.
I had gotten home, bathed, ate dinner and went to play God of war game on my PS3 in my room. I glanced at my wall clock when Hillary knocked on my door and entered.
I paused my game. “What are you doing in my room at 9pm?”
She walked and sat on my bed. “Is it a crime to come play with my brother?”
“You have been avoiding me, what gave you the courage to face me now?”
“I simply missed you.” she said.
“But I did not.” We chuckled together.
“I know you did Hector.”
“When did you come back?”
I touched my chin and glared at her eyes. “Do you know that it will be difficult for you to get married?”
Her jaw fell. “I did not come to your room to be insulted.”
“How dare you embarrass your sister and her husband?” I rose and she followed suit.
“She embarrassed me with the man she thought could make a good husband to me.”
“You think Hope won’t tell me of your disgusting attitude. You think, you are beautiful and can have any man you want. Peter will never fall for your antics. If you are planning something to get him, it will never work."
“Men are unpredictable.”
“Yes, I agree to that but Peter is a decent man. He might be cheating on her but he will never, ever sleep with his wife’s younger sister. He will never betray his wife, his family, our family just to get inside your pants. He loves Hope.”
“But you don’t believe in love.” she voiced out.
“Peter is not me.”
She folded her hands and shook her head. “I know what to do.”
“You will do nothing!”
She brought down her hands. “Mom said you are not in support of the woman Mrs. Bola is bringing to work for us.”
“What about it.?” I asked her.
“I will make sure she gets employed.”
I frowned. “I don’t know why mother will accept another cook who has a child when she has a grown up daughter in the house. Just thank your stars I am getting married soon and won’t be here for long.”
She laughed at me. “To a woman you don’t love. You will be caged and don’t think she will allow you cheat on her after marriage. Melissa is a pretender, a green snake under the green grass. I’m sorry bro, she will monitor anywhere you step your foot in.”
“That’s none of your business. Leave my room.”
“I will,” she said calmly. “But I don’t get you Hector, why are you so angry because mom wants to employ another woman or the fact that she has a daughter?”
“An illiterate daughter.”
“What makes you think she’s an illiterate?” she asked.
“If her mother is offered the job, she will either close her local restaurant or her daughter will take over. For the daughter to join the mother in the kitchen means she’s jobless and uneducated.”
“Already judging,” she said. “With all these coming out from you, we are alike.”
“I am different from you.”
She walked to my doorpost. “What if the woman asks for her daughter to work here with her?”
“For what?” I asked pissed.
“Assisting hand of course.”
“Another illiterate to come here?” I asked her. “I can manage the woman but Mom should dare not agree to that. Ebube is here already to help her and I have had enough of that one in this house.”
The look on her face changed. “I thought you were cool with her now?” Hillary asked in an astonished tone. “Remember she’s going back to school.”
“I will be cool with her when she passes her exams and enter into the university. I just don’t want another girl in this house terrorizing me with her ugliness.”
Hillary burst into laughter. “You are annoying but the good thing about you is that there’s never a dull moment spent with you. I pray the daughter eventually works here for me to witness the drama that will unfold between you two. It will be Hector versus Renee.”
“And who has that ugly name?” I asked her heatedly. “Who the hell is Renee?”
“She’s the new cook’s daughter.”
The anger in me was equipped to explode. I had to take a deep breath. “How did you know her name?”
“I called Mrs. Bola to give me the details of the woman she was bringing before coming to your room.”
If the look in my eyes could make her burn, she would have been burnt alive by now. “Did you remember to offer your condolences to her?”
She made a baffled sound before speaking. “Of course I did. I have a heart.”
I removed my eyes away from her direction. “Leave my room.”
“Are you telling me to leave your room because I called Mrs. Bola to…?”
I could not allow her finish her garbage question, I carried the pad of my game to stone her but she hurriedly unfastened the door and ran out. If Hillary had stayed a little longer, she would have left my room with a black eye. Before I knew it, she opened my door and peeped to inspect the expression on my face.
“Hector and Renee.” she said and I elevated from my bed but she ran to her room and bolted the door.
“Total rubbish!” I spat out.
To be continued....
To be continued....