Fola was the first to break away from the kiss. “I am sorry.” He said, avoiding her gaze. “Yemi would be here anytime from now. You might want to get ready.” He said, clearing his throat. He slipped his hands into his pockets. He had kissed her on impulse and was now unable to move any intended discussion further. It was right to just halt it here before things got more complicated than they were. They were already complicated in his mind. He could feel his heart racing faster than normal. He couldn’t say he wished the last few seconds had not happened right now. He was glad it did. Aaima kept staring at him. That made him uncomfortable. He blinked as he stared at her.
“Are you not going to say anything?” Aaima asked, breaking the silence.
Arrrggghhhhh!!!!!!! Fola hated this!!!! Aaima was messing with his mind. Why did she have to talk? What did she expect him to say? Can’t a man just kiss a woman he had been meaning to make out with in peace? He blinked as he thought of the next thing to say. “I…errr-”
“Fola King. Lost for words? Is this a first? I must say I find it quite fascinating.” Aaima started as she approached him with a coy smile. “You do know that it’s not very proper to force a kiss on a woman, right?”
Fola swallowed. “Did…I-”
Then the doorbell went.
Fola exhaled as he thanked God in his heart for small miracles like the doorbell saving you from almost goofing. He turned away from her and hurried to the door.
Aaima’s smile brimmed from ear to ear as she watched Fola hit his leg against the sofa as he hurried away from her. For some awkward reasons, she was enjoying this. She was however not playing with Fola’s feelings, which were pretty obvious to her. Except of course, she had tripped on the wrong signals. He was Fola King. She could expect almost anything with him. She hoped for her sake that she did not pick the playboy version of Fola King. She was skilled at analysing people as a profession. But now, she needed someone to analyse her and maybe Fola too. She hoped that this was real. It felt good. She smiled.
Fola returned into the living room with Yemi. “Aaima, meet Yemi. Yemi, Aaima.” He said, introducing both ladies.
Yemi smiled as she stretched forth her hand to Aaima. “It’s a pleasure to meet you.”
“Nice to meet you too.” Aaima replied, taking the hand confidently. “Thank you for doing this.” She added.
Yemi shrugged as she stared at Fola. “Anything for an old crush.”
Fola’s smile faded and his eyes bulged in shock as he stared at her angrily.
Yemi chuckled. “Oh! I am sorry. You thought I’d miss the opportunity to see you pissed for anything in the world?” she asked, and then turned to Aaima. “I am sorry, but I just enjoyed rubbing it in his face…and maybe yours too.”
Aaima smiled. “No offence taken.”
“Good. Now let’s get down to the station.” Yemi replied, heading for the exit.
Aaima took one glance at Fola before going after Yemi. Fola exhaled before sinking into the sofa.
“She loves you, you know?”
Fola turned to see Obi. He blinked. This was his moment of truth. Obi took his seat, opposite him.
“She really does love you.” He re-echoed.
Fola searched for the words. Obi was in love with Aaima. He was too. What was he going to say to his friend that would sound right? He blinked and clenched his teeth as he looked away.
“We can talk about it, you know?”
Fola turned to him. “Really? What do you want us to talk about, Obi?”
Obi took a deep breath. “You are my friend.”
“And so?” Fola replied, defensively.
Obi nodded. “I know you, Fola. You are not going to love Aaima back.”
Fola looked away.
“Fola, I am no longer that kid who didn’t have money to go to school back then that you had to stay at home for.” Obi started.
Fola turned to him. “What are you saying?” He asked in a soft tone.
Obi swallowed. “All I am saying is, don’t hurt Aaima for me. It’s pointless because she’ll never see me and I know that well enough.”
Fola rose to his feet. “I don’t know what you are talking about.”
“Damn it, Fola! Can you just stop and listen!” Obi said, rising to meet him. “I know this Fola! This is the dude who is going to act as though Aaima doesn’t exist so as just to satisfy someone else. You are on your superman mission and I can see you want to do right by me and deny how you feel, but I don’t need your help.” He replied.
Fola hissed. “I have more pressing matters to attend to than this.”
“Pressing matters like?” Obi asked.
Fola shrugged. “I have to call Greg and let him know that I am not coming in today.”
Obi clenched his teeth. “Is that all?”
“Yes.” Fola replied.
Obi blinked. “You don’t have to tell him what’s going on with you and Umar, you know?”
Fola stared at him. “I feel Umar would visit the firm to ask about me under a stupid guise and if I don’t cover my tracks well. They’ll give Umar my Mom’s address. She is my next of kin.” He replied, pulling out his phone.
“Why not call Peterside directly?” Obi suggested. “Umar would not go to Greg for a high profile case like yours.” he said.
Fola nodded. “I know. But Greg is our friend too. We have to warn him.” He replied, turning away from Obi.
Greg stared at Sarah. “You are distracting me.”
“All I need is the keys to your apartment so I can gather my things.” She replied.
He shook his head. “No. I don’t want you setting foot in my house in my absence.” He said. “Go and camp wherever you like. You can come over around eight to gather your stuff.”
Sarah exhaled. “I can’t believe this is happening to me.”
“I know right?” He cooed, typing on his laptop. “Karma is a female dog.”
Sarah stared at him. “You are doing this because I don’t like you?”
“No.” he said, staring at her. “Not liking me is okay. Treating me like shit is not okay. You can’t have the best of both worlds.” He added.
She scoffed. “You are really bitter.”
Greg nodded. “At least, you are right about emotions.”
Sarah undid her top button and loosened her shirt.
Greg chuckled. “That’s a waste of your time. I am not interested.”
“Who said anything about you being interested?” she asked as she approached him.
Greg stared at her. “What are you doing?”
“You have five seconds to give me your keys…or I’ll scream. I have nothing to lose in this firm.” She said.
Greg blinked as his heart raced. “You are kidding me.”
“Watch your dream job fly out of the window in the next second. Keys?”
Greg pulled out the keys from his drawer and handed them to her. “You are a bitch.”
She nodded with a smile as she fixed her buttons. “Karma is a female dog, right?” She hissed and walked out of his office.
Greg’s phone vibrated. Fola. He shook his head. He was not sure he wanted to answer the call right now. Fola did not show up for work and he was sure that Obi must have told him something. It was pointless answering his call. Fola would probably be calling to set up a date for both of them in the gym so he could knock his teeth out. He knew he was a waste for a friend. He was not sorry. Fola had everything he could ever dream of. He didn’t want Fola as a friend. He was not going to waste his time apologizing when he wasn’t. With that, he ignored the call, pushing the red button on his phone.
Aaima felt as though one of the officers knew her. He would not take his gaze off her. She hoped the interrogation would stop and she could leave the room. Yemi spoke to the DPO in a corner of the room while some other men took down Aaima’s statement. Aaima wondered what was going on and with the officer making her feel uncomfortable with his somewhat leery eyes, the more the need to leave the room.
Finally, Yemi turned in their direction and signalled to her. It was time to leave. She followed quickly out of the station and to Yemi’s car. “Sorry about the delay. I just needed to ensure that the statement would be filed today to us. I’ll take it up from there.” She said, buckling her seatbelt. She then turned to Aaima who seemed to be lost. “Hey!”
Aaima turned to her.
“If it’s about what I said back at the house. You need to get your mind off it. I am not dating Fola.” Yemi said.
Aaima blinked. “It’s not about that.”
“Oh good.” Yemi replied, starting her engines.
Aaima stared at her. “I didn’t like the way he looked at me.”
“Fatso?!” Yemi laughed. “No one likes the idiot! His large bulb-like eye balls are not even a sight anyone likes to behold.” She added. She then stared at Aaima. “Yours are cute.”
Aaima managed a smile. “Can we just leave this place?”
“Sure. I am hoping to get a call from my boss soon enough. The good thing is your kidnapping happened in my jurisdiction, and not to sound cocky, but I am the best prosecutor in that office. The case is coming to me.” She said, driving off.
Aaima sighed as they drove out of the compound. “How long would it take before we go to court?” she asked, looking through the side mirror.
Yemi shrugged. “It all depends. This looks like something we can bring in before the week is over. Well, if all goes well.”
“By going well, you mean according to your plans, right?” Aaima asked, not taking her eyes off the side mirror.
Yemi nodded. “Yes.” She then stared at Aaima. “What are you doing?”
“The black truck has been following us since we left the station.”
Yemi scoffed. “Stop being paranoid. Fatso likes women. That’s where it ends.”
“I guess you are right.” She replied.
Yemi’s phone buzzed. Mumu Pikin. Yemi smiled at the name on the caller ID and answered the phone via her Bluetooth earphones. “What can I do for you?”
“Where are you?”
Yemi scoffed. “You know how much I hate that tone, right?”
“Peterside suspended me. I need a place to crash. And I am choosing yours.”
Yemi laughed. “What is wrong with you? Are you high on something? Look here, young lady, if I see you anywhere near my apartment, you’ll be crashing with some inmates tonight. Are we clear?” She asked, and hung up.
Aaima blinked. “That…that sounded harsh.” She said, staring at Yemi.
“That’s what she deserves. Are you hungry?” she asked.
Aaima shook her head. “Am I not meant to be hiding or something? What if Umar finds me?” she asked as she checked to see if the truck was still behind them.
“I didn’t know Umar had eyes everywhere in town. It’s just food. I am hungry and I need to satisfy that want before I proceed with the madness of this day.” She said, staring at the eatery ahead of them. She took one glance into her side mirror and noticed the truck. She stepped on the gas pedal a little and watched the truck as it seemed to be closing up on them. “I think you are right.”
Aaima stared at her. “About?”
“That truck. We are being followed.” She replied.
Aaima exhaled. “I’ll call Fola.” She said, fetching her phone.
Yemi focused on the traffic light ahead of them which was turning red. “Hold tight.” She ordered and stepped on her pedal.
Obi dropped Fola’s phone on the sofa. “Let’s talk. Outside. No distractions. Just you and me. I want you to talk to me. Tell me why you don’t want to love her.”
Fola picked up his phone. “You are being silly, and I am not having this conversation with you. It’s best you drop it.” He replied, walking away.
“I am going to fight for her.”
“If you keep putting up a front like you always do about not caring about her. I am going to fight for her, and I am going to make her fall in love with me.”
Fola turned towards him. “Good for you.” He replied.
“Fola, what is your problem?!” Obi shouted.
Fola’s phone buzzed. Aaima. He stared at Obi. “She is calling. Do you want to answer the phone?” he asked, cynically.
“Why don’t you do that? It’s your phone called. Not mine.” Obi replied.
Fola dropped the phone on the sofa. “You know what? I want to have that conversation now.”
“Okay…where do you want to start from?” Obi asked.
Fola approached him. “How about we talk about the fact that you have always been attracted to her and then you fell for her? How about we focus on the fact that I am also in love with her and I am doing what is right for both of us here?”
“Who asked for your sympathy? Fola, I am telling you this because you are not going to find a better woman and you are eventually going to regret this decision and I don’t want you to grunt about it in the future.” Obi replied.
The phone buzzed again. Fola took a glance at it before turning to Obi. “No lady has ever owned me. It won’t start now.” He said.
Obi hissed. “Is this about me, or Aaima or your foolishness?” Obi asked. “Look, bro, if you want to mess up your life because you want to, fine. But please, I don’t want you to ever think or to ever say that you did not love Aaima because of me. I am not asking you to and I would never waste my time chasing her, not when I know where her heart lies. There’ll be someone out there for me. But you have found yours, don’t waste it.” He concluded.
“Are you done?” Fola asked.
Obi nodded. “Yes, I am.”
“I’ll go and take a nap.” He said. “Maybe when I wake up, you’ll tell me what is going on with you and Greg and why he is not returning my calls.” He added, approaching the stairway.
Obi’s phone buzzed. “Aaima is calling.”
Fola clenched his teeth in anger “Answer it. She couldn’t even wait for me to call back. There’s something there for you. She must love-”
“-Shut it!” Obi said, and picked the call. “Hey, Aaima.”
Fola swallowed as he watched Obi take her call.
“Oh my God! Where are you?!” Obi called out.
Fola hurried down to meet him. “What’s going on?”
“They are being followed.” Obi replied as the line went dead.
Umar lifted the receiver. “Good of you to finally return my call, Yusuf!” he said, angrily. He paused to listen to what Yusuf had to say. “I see! Busy with what?”
“Look, Umar, you know I hate being yelled at. So, I suggest you calm down. I had to go and buy some goods for the guys at the port. That way, our goods come in without any hassles.” Yusuf replied.
Umar smiled. He finally had some good news. Proactive Yusuf. “Okay…how far with that?”
“Loading my trunk as we speak.” He replied.
Umar nodded. “I need you to get down here as soon as possible. Gather some boys too. We must smoke out Aaima and Fola as soon as possible.”
“I hear you. Stop ordering me though.” Yusuf replied, hanging up.
Umar took a deep breath and dialled another number on his phone.
Yusuf dropped his binoculars in his lap and checked his wristwatch. He had given up on chasing Aaima’s car. He was sure they picked up his trail and went so fast that he lost them. He just hoped that he’d get to them before Umar did. Umar seemed to be firing all cylinders and bringing out his strong will these days. Yusuf chuckled at the thought. He had been sent to infiltrate him by the National Security Unit. Yusuf thought of all the evil he had led Umar into doing and relaxed in his seat. He was ruthless. That was why they hired him. He was, however, sorry about collateral damages like Hajjia Fatima and that was why he set off to find Aaima before Umar or any of his boys got to her. She, however, was on the run and right now, he had to head back to Umar before he would suspect anything.
Yemi bolted the door after them. “We should be safe here.”
“Are you sure?” Aaima asked, taking her seat.
Yemi smiled. “You have taken a seat. You feel safe.”
“I feel tired.” Aaima replied.
Yemi took a seat. “We are not drawing the curtains back and we are staying put until Fola gets here.” She said. “Hopefully the police get here before him.” She added.
Aaima bowed her head and prayed silently.
Yemi shook her head as she saw this. Maybe she was just too worried about going to court that she didn’t bother about the fact that they had just been chased by an unknown truck. She exhaled and hoped that they lost the truck for good.
Aaima sat back. “You know, I had no business coming to Nigeria.”
“I hope you are not about to start a farewell speech? You know those types folks do before they die?” Yemi said, taking her seat beside Aaima.
Aaima chuckled. “You have a queer sense of humour.”
“It’s what keeps me going. I would probably be dead by now without it.” Yemi replied with a smile.
Aaima took a deep breath. “Fatima and I never got along. I was born and bred in London. Our parents only brought Fatima for the holidays while they left me in London with a nanny. I was not close to her. I knew nothing about her. Except that I thought she was really smart. My mother told me that Fatima was going to be in charge of the family business someday. I couldn’t care less, all I loved was my job. When our parents died, Fatima told me to come home.” She stopped and turned to Yemi. “Right now, I almost wish I never did.”
Yemi stared at her. “Fola.”
Aaima managed a smile. “That’s the only good I have got from my trip here.”
Yemi nodded. “Then, that’s enough good.”
“You think so?” Aaima asked.
Yemi rolled her eyes. “I am not the one who is in love.”
Aaima chuckled. “I just want all these to be over.”
“Soon.” Yemi replied.
The doorbell went.
“Fola.” Aaima said.
Yemi stared at the door. “Sit still, okay? And if I scream, you run as fast as you can. Go out through my window. Try not to die while jumping.” She added and rose to her feet.
Aaima’s heart pounded as she watched Yemi approach the door.
Yemi opened the door and Sarah pushed her out of the way. “Call whoever you like, but I am staying here!” she ranted. She gaped as she saw Aaima in the living room. She turned to Yemi. “What is going on here?”
Yemi stared at her. “You intruded on my privacy. That’s what is going on here.”
“What are you doing with Aaima, Yemi?” Sarah yelled. “You bastard. You screwed me over!”
Yemi scoffed. “Screw? I don’t particularly like that word as I don’t have a stud, okay?”
“I am going to deal with you. All of you!” Sarah yelled. “Now I know why Peterside suspended me. You dirty greedy,-”
Yemi slapped Sarah in the face before she could conclude her sentence. “Now, get out of my house.” She ordered, pushing Sarah out.
Aaima joined Yemi. “That’s Sarah.”
“Yeah.” Yemi replied, locking the door. “Call Fola. They are taking too long.”
Sarah knew where she was. She knew what she was doing. She was not numb or drugged but she was here. She was ready to damn the rest of the words that had been drummed into her mind as a child. Not like she cared for those words anymore. But the rest of it was about to go out of the window. They drove her nuts.
“He will see you now.” The lady in a red gown announced.
She nodded and walked into the office. You could mentally smell minted one thousand Naira notes as you stepped into the office. There was no way she would not cart away with hers.
“What do you want?”
She took a deep breath. “Fifteen million naira and I will tell you where Aaima Bello is.”
Umar turned to Yusuf.
“You have five minutes.” Sarah said. “Make up your minds.”
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