I stood speechless before Dotun. He blinked. I felt he was expecting me to say something, but there was nothing coming from my end.
While at high school, I thought Dotun was the hottest boy and I once slid a note into his back pack, although it was printed so as not to get into trouble with my handwriting. I had told him in the note to meet me at the school’s basket ball court by lunch that I would be waiting for him in the stands. He showed up but I lacked total courage to come out of hiding. I remember him pacing up and down the court and at a time; he started throwing the balls into the ring, until the school coach came into the gym and whisked him out.
Here he was standing before me, I felt like fifteen again and I tried to hide the nervousness in my eyes.
He smiled. “I always knew I will see you again, and as a success.”
“How are you, Dotun?”
He motioned to the chair. “I am doing fine. I won’t mind if you can say another word to me apart from ‘How are you, Dotun?’” he said.
I laughed. “Why is that?”
“That’s the only thing you ever said to me in our six years at high school.”
I was stunned. “Are you serious?”
He smiled, revealing his dimples. ‘Ouch! That’s what I think I fell for’ . “Darlene, there was this day I hurt my knee in JS3, and everyone was comforting me, but you didn’t. I stared at you, but you looked away.” He started. “I felt really bad, and then the magical moment came when my driver came to get me.” He said with a smile. “You were standing near the gate, and when I limped across, you held me back and said, ‘How are you, Dotun?’” he stopped, and we both laughed. “That was the best moment of my high school life.”
I was so embarrassed; I had to cover my face.
“You were my first crush, Darlene. I could never forget that moment.” He concluded, straightening his glasses.
‘Why do we live complicated lives? If you love someone, or rather, if you have a crush, JUST SAY! Things were mutual between Dotun and I then, but no one could man-up. Did he expect me to?’ I thought. “Okay, how’s work?” I asked, smiling.
“It was fun until Chidi Obi decided to wreck my dad’s business.” He replied. “What would you have?” he asked, ordering drinks.
“Soda will be fine.” I replied. “There are many competent lawyers in the city, why me?”
Dotun handed me the soda and smiled. “You are one of the best persons I know when it comes to arguing, judging by your high school debating skills. So, when I heard that you were practicing law, I knew that it had to be you for this case.”
“Did you attend debates at high school?” I asked, sipping the soda.
He nodded. “I have never really been a fan of debates, but I just loved seeing you tear your opponents apart.”
“I see you had this all planned.”
He smiled. “Apart from that, I had to see you.” He sipped his drink carefully.
“Thanks for the vote of confidence, Dotun” I replied.
He laughed. “It’s nothing. By the way, how is Jacob?”
He nodded. “Do you guys till hang out like before?”
He smiled. “You guys always made a cute couple, never seen such committed friendship. Are you guys together?” he asked.
“No. we are just friends.”
He batted his eyelashes. “Soon you will be lovers.” He stood up and gestured to his Dad who was approaching.
“Darlene Williams, right?” Mr. Davis said firmly offering his hand.
I took the hand. “At your service, Sir.”
“Thanks for keeping our lawyer here company, Dotun. It’s getting late; you might want to go home now.”
I grinned. “Okay Dad. Can I have your card, Darlene?” he asked, turning towards me.
“Yes, please.” I replied, and fetched a card from my purse.
“I’ll give you a call tomorrow.” He said and pecked me on the cheek. “Good night, Darlene.”
I smiled. “Night, Dotun.”
Mr. Tunji Davis cleared his throat and Dotun scampered off. “You guys got along real good.”
“We go way back.” I replied.
He smiled. “That’s good. So, that aside, Chidi Obi has robbed me off an oil rig and I don’t want him to get away with it.” He started. “The society thinks that he has achieved something, not knowing that he robbed me off it, I bought that rig, but I don’t know how he was able to upturn the Dubai guys on me.”
“Do you have any document to prove your ownership?” I asked.
He nodded in agreement. “Yes, I do. But Obi also has the same documents with his name on them, it’s all messed up at the moment and I am sure that he did something shady.”
“Do you have any of the Dubai agents on your side?” I asked.
He nodded. “Sameer has promised to be in court for me. I will fly him in a week before the case.”
“That will be fine by me. Since Oil is involved, I would advise you not to reveal the identity of your witness at the moment, we don’t want Sameer compromised or killed.” I said, fetching my phone. “Can I have a copy of the deed?”
He opened his brief case and handed me the document. “That is a photocopy of it, I have the original in the bank.”
“This will do.” I said, putting the document in my bag.
We exchanged phone numbers. “I will set up a meeting with you tomorrow.”
“Be careful kid.” He said.
I nodded. “I’ll be.” I replied and left.
I boarded the BRT bus. I was lucky enough to get a seat, so that I wouldn’t have to stand for the next twenty minutes before getting to my bus station. The advantage of having a bag with you is that you can boss people to get a seat by putting it before you. I plugged my ear phones in my ears as the bus drove off.
I felt a light tap on my shoulder. I raised my head and an old man in a torn leather jacket and almost no teeth flashed a wide smile at me. You know what that means. I stood up and leaned for support until I got off the bus.
As I strolled into the estate, I watched teenagers riding their bicycles and enjoying an evening after school. Some were locked around in corners; well you know what they could have been doing.
Work had officially begun for me at Ade-Cole, I held in my hand a file that would see me go up against a renowned lawyer.
“Dad, I am going up against Subomi Bankole in two weeks.” I said, standing by the door.
Dad’s eyes shot open. “Subomi?”
Subomi Bankole meant doom to my dad. His first lose was attributed to him. I nodded to affirm it. “Yes Dad, Subomi Bankole.”
Dad sipped his Red Wine. “I’ll have the boys in Sydney prepare the house when you fail, or is it Miami you would love to cool off.”
I managed a soft chuckle as I joined Dad on the sofa. “I haven’t even gone up against him, Dad.” I stressed. “Don’t be so negative.” I added, retrieving the documents from my bag. “I am going to attack him like a careless rookie; I won’t try to play professional.”
Dad laughed. “Tricks from your professor’s class at Harvard? Professor Dean told me the same thing when I was about to start my career.” He replied.
“Things were a lot different for you, Dad. You and Subomi were on the same level then, and you have been able to rise above him ever since.” I retorted, opening the file.
Dad smirked. “The first cut is always the deepest. Time has not been able to heal the wound. Subomi downed me in court that day. In this game, it’s about the lawyers, not the clients.” He paused to add more wine. “After this case, you are going to start taking alcohol, because, I know you can’t beat Subomi.” He concluded and gulped the wine.
“That’s not encouraging, father.” I said, frowning.
He looked at me. “Father?” he smiled. “Since when did I become father?”
“That’s what you are to me, isn’t it?”
He nodded. “Of course, I am your father, and it hurts that you don’t want to face reality. It’s harsh, but I can’t see you beating Subomi, you will be frustrated in five minutes.”
“Give it up, Dad!” I said, putting the file in my bag.
He smiled. “And the tabloids are going to read: ‘HISTORY REPEATS ITSELF AS SUBOMI BANKOLE TAKES DOWN DARLENE WILLIAMS’” he paused and smiled at me. “Drop the case before the world laughs at the Williams family a second time.”
“I will beat Subomi.” I said, and left for my room.
I slammed my door angrily and burst into tears. Dad made me feel incompetent. There was a light tap on the door. I could guess. “Go away, Dora.” I sobbed.
“Why try to deal with this alone?”
I stood up like a zombie and opened the door for her. She hugged me tightly. I didn’t want to let go off the hug, at that moment, I needed it.
“Quit working for Dad.” I said to her.
Dora chuckled. “Dad is great man, you know.”
“I have lived with him for years, and I still am. His ego above everything and everyone else,” I retorted.
Dora patted me lightly. “I resigned from the firm today.” She said.
“Really?” I said, wiping my tears. “I am not surprised. Did Dad throw one of his tantrums at you?”
She smiled. “Nothing of such, I am going into Photography.” She went on and on about how she wanted to view the world through pictures. She wanted to represent every vein in a leaf, wool on a sheep and all. I watched Dora talk with passion about something she loved to do, and I knew that all I needed was the passion I had when I went into law school, and I was sure to beat Subomi Bankole, not only for me, but for my Dad. God willing!
“And with all these, I think I am satisfied with your statement. I will try my best to speak with Sameer on Skype tonight.” I said, closing my laptop.
Mr. Davis cleared his throat. “How do you fancy your chances against Subomi?” Mr. Davis looked worried. At the moment, it seemed as though, my father was right. Subomi Bankole is a real lion in the ring. I was opportune to watch him once. “That man is a smart crook. I guess you must have a lot of respect for him considering his age and his time in the field. I hope that will not affect you.”
“Never mind Mr. Davis, let me worry about those petty issues. All that matters is that we strongly have a case against Chidi Obi, and it will take a lot of Subomi Bankole’s nerves to beat it.” I said, tapping the file.
He smiled. “I love your confidence kid. I hope to see more of it in two weeks.” He said, standing up. We shook hands firmly. “I will call in the evening to get a feedback of your conversation with Sameer.” He added, and left.
The case which would see me take on Subomi Bankole meant a lot to me more than people could understand. I reveled in excitement of battling Subomi Bankole, for Dad and me. It reminded me of high school when I was the president of the Arts society and we had a debate against our rival school. I totally ‘outclassed’ Jumoke Bankole according to my mates.
“You think you are smart, right?” Jumoke had said, accosting me after the competition.”
I smiled. “Come on Jumoke, you did well too.” I replied, adjusting my collar.
“I have to admit, you are good. How did you do it?” she asked, with a smile.
I grinned. “I don’t tell my little secrets to rivals.” I replied, adjusting my hair.
“You are so full of yourself, aren’t you? Are you taking a revenge on me for my Dad beating your father last week?”
I remember saying to her, “I could care less, and all that matters is that, in this world of ours, I am the boss!”
I turned in my swivel chair as I played
Enya’s Orinoco flow . It happened to inspire me at this moment. I was provided with a bunch of documents by Mr. Davis which was to help me in my preparation for the case. He had spent around three hours in my office briefing me on how things were between himself and Chidi Obi before they decided to go their separate ways. I had no doubt that if there was going to be a jury, Chidi Obi would be condemned, the ‘masses’ would reel in excitement if he ended up behind bars.
Chidi Obi had channeled electricity to two of his plants in the remote region of the country and had deprived them of electricity in the time past. This made the people hate him so much, but it didn’t make him restore power to them until government had stepped in. I continued my work until Dare walked in.
“Darlene, its 3pm. Have you had lunch?” he asked, holding the door.
At that moment, I realized that I hadn’t eaten. “I have been so engrossed in this work. I’ll sort that out when I get home.”
“Come on, you have to eat. Don’t you think you are skinny enough?” he asked, approaching me.
I rolled my eyes. “I am not on a diet, Dare. I am just caught up here.” I said staring at the documents on my table.
“If you say so, I will have a steward get you some food. Kentucky?”
I nodded. “Thanks.”
“See you soon.” He replied, and left.
I was starving, but I hadn’t realized it until Dare showed up. I was totally engrossed in the case. I checked my mail box and Dora had sent me some pictures from her first shots.
“How do you like them? They are from KP’s, will send you some more when I take them later.”
Dora had passion for what she did, honestly, I could relate to Dora’s photos. It came from a passionate angle, and for me, anything done with passion always had a Midas touch.
“Ta-da!” Dare said, as he walked in carrying two KFC packs.
I stared at him. “And I guess, you are the steward, right?”
“You should be grateful,” he said, dropping one bag on the table.
I smiled. “Thank you.” I said, checking the contents of the bag.
“I hope you like fries.” He said, approaching the door.
“Why don’t you join me for lunch here?” I asked, politely. He raised one eye brow. “We could talk about the case against Subomi Bankole.”
He laughed as he dropped his pack on the table. “The case is against Chidi Obi.”
“I know, but when you are in. the inside, you can only relate to your opposing lawyer.” I replied.
He sat on the rug. “I’d rather we use the rug. You don’t want to mess up the documents.”
“Oh yes!” I replied, and joined him on the rug.
We sat close to the giant window. “Lovely view from here, isn’t it?” I asked.
“I can’t seem to relate with the awesomeness of this view.” He replied, eating his fries.
I nudged him. “Try to be artistic in heart, and you will see it.” I replied.
“So how is the preparation coming?” he asked.
I nodded. “So far so good, I think I have Chidi Obi in a tight corner based on all the documents that Tunji Davis provided me,” I said, taking a chunk of the chicken. I rattled on about the court case to Dare who listened with rapt attention.
I was filled with so much excitement. If I should beat Subomi, I was starting my career on the high, and I couldn’t wish for a better start. I chattered on to Dare about how much I would love to win this case, he didn’t say a word but he kept on gazing, so I guessed he wasn’t listening.
“Dare! Dare!!…Dare!!!” I called furiously.
He snapped out of his thoughts.
“Did you hear anything I said?” I asked.
He laughed. “Of course, it’s just that, you have tomato sauce on your mouth.”
I stared at him with caution. “You could have just said that.” I grabbed a wipe and cleaned my mouth. “Now back to our discussion,” I said as I continued.
“There’s no discussion here, you were the only one doing the talking.” He said, sipping his Pepsi.
My eyes popped in shock. “Are you saying I was just talking to the wind?”
“That’s if the wind was listening.” He replied.
I punched him hard. “Don’t do that.” He said, almost sounding angry.
“I will and I will again.” I replied and punched him again.
He frowned a bit. “I am too much of a strong man to be affected by those weak punches of yours.”
“You think?” I asked and hit him again.
He smirked. “Miss, that’s your last punch. Should you hit me again, I’ll fire you!”
I laughed. “I’d like to see you try. I am about to have my first case and I am sure that you are scared of Subomi so you were willing to pass the case to me.” I said laughing.
“You are a joker! You were specifically requested for by Tunji Davis. I couldn’t turn him down, and by the way, the pay is high. Too high to turn down.”
I bit my lip. “To you, I am facing Subomi because of what you will make out of it, right?”
“You conclude easily.” He said, cleaning his hands.
I nodded. “Now I know why you were eager to get me food. You wouldn’t want your ‘lottery ticket’ feeling ill, right?” I asked, feigning seriousness.
Dare fell for it.
“Darlene, forget about what I said previously. Tunji Davis specifically asked for you. He already told you, didn’t he?”
“Nope.” I replied, closing the pack. “He said nothing of such to me, except that you had nominated me for it.” I continued, teasing him.
Dare felt uneasy and reached for his phone. “That man lied to you, and he’s going to hear from me.” He said, punching in some digits. Game up! I yanked the phone from him and aborted the call. He had already dialed Tunji Davis and it took some speed from me to stop the call. “Why did you?” he asked.
I smiled. “I was teasing you. Tunji Davis wanted me.”
“What am I going to do with you?” Dare stressed. He reached for my hand to get his phone, but I dodged his hand. He swiftly pinned my hands and back to the floor. He stared at me and my heart raced fast. For once, I felt like a prey in a lion’s den. He leaned closer and closer, my heart beat didn’t slow down. I felt my resistance breaking as his lips touched mine, and then, I kissed back.
I was the first to withdraw from the kiss.
“I am sorry.” He said, ruffling his hair.
I swallowed and I tried to hide the embarrassment in my face. I threw the pack into the trash can. “I didn’t see that coming.” I managed to say, amidst the embarrassment welling in my face. “D–n it!” I cursed softly, as I bowed my head.
“There’s nothing to be ashamed of, we are adults, I guess I shouldn’t have kissed you, but I just couldn’t resist you. It’s my fault.” He said, apologizing. He adjusted his tie and approached the door. I faced the window sternly and didn’t turn towards him. “Darlene, I am sorry. It was just an impulse, I shouldn’t have.” He said, and walked out.
Hot tears streamed down my cheeks. The best Paul had gotten from me was a peck. This is my first kiss. Did it have to be Dare’s. Could I be in love with him?
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