I called Ladi as soon as I got into the car, telling her of the situation and asking for advice on what to do next and she advised that I get an emergency birth control at the closest pharmacy. I was driving very slowly trying to locate a pharmacy. I kept praying for forgiveness. How could I have been so careless? I located a pharmacy after about 20 minutes and walked right in.
To the left and right were two couples. Behind me was a woman about my mother’s age. I could feel her eyes on my body. In front of me was a girl who looked really sick. She had come to purchase Malaria drugs. In a short while, I heard the pharmacist call. “Madam, it’s your turn.” “Me” I asked trying to act oblivious.
“You know what, attend to them. I am not in a hurry." I said pointing to the couple.
The first couple requested a pregnancy test kit and the other ordered prenatal vitamins. As I watched them, my reason for being there began to feel very wrong. I wasn’t sure I could order the pill. While I was still smiling pretending my reason for letting them go ahead of me was me simply being courteous, I got a call from the office that the chairman had been waiting to see me for close to two hours. What a perfect time! I got out of the pharmacy quickly, and drove straight to the office.
I got to the office in a rush and very disorganised to say the least.
“Hi Cleo, where have you been? The chairman has been waiting.” They all said taking turns. Getting to answer the question would have been wasting extra time I couldn’t afford at the time. I dropped my laptop quickly and was rushing to the chairman’s office when I met him in the hallway.
“Hi Cleo. Good Morning. I had been waiting for you all day. Where have you been?”
“You look good. I think my daughter has the same dress you have on. I bought it for her on my last trip to the US.” I was short of words. I had no idea what to say next.
“I am so sorry sir. I was trying to …”
“Oh it's okay. I know you never come in late. Are you sure everything is okay?”
Flattered by his response, I was quiet for a while after which I replied, “everything is fine sir.”
“Are you sure?” He asked again. “You could go home if you want. Our meeting can wait till tomorrow.”
“It’s okay sir. I'll be fine.”
“Okay if you say so. So, we just signed this new client . It is a big one.” He smiled as he handed me the file.
“They happened to see some of the online ad campaigns we ran earlier and they were really impressed. Thanks to you.” He said as he gave me a pat on the shoulder.
“If you and my son can continue to do what you both know how to do best, we will be on a retainer for the next five years smiling to the bank every other day. Not just a retainer, a retainer worth hundreds of millions.” He whispered and laughed afterwards expecting me to join him.
When I didn't smile or laugh he asked again, “did you hear me?”
“Yes I did sir. I was just…”
“So, why do you not look happy?”
If only he knew what his son and I had been up to, he would have chosen a better phrase to express his confidence in the both of us. Indeed we both knew how to do what we do know how to do best.
“I am indeed very happy sir.”I said with a pretentious smile. I’ll be on this right away. Í promise we will do our best possible to make this happen.
“Nice, Thank you. I trust you both. Once you are done drafting a copy, you can take it to Deji so you both can look through.”
“I really appreciate your confidence in me sir and we won't let you down.”
‘“That’s good to know.” He said smiling as I stood up to leave.
“Cleo” he called as soon as I got to the door.
“I forgot to add. Get me a mindblowing campaign in 48 hours and you will get a big surprise from me. It’s something you have always wished for. Trust me.”
“Okay sounds nice. I’ll try my best sir.”
“Mhmm” he said as he stood up and moved towards the rooftop.
“Something I have always wanted” I repeated to myself as I walked out. I could not remember having a conversation of a wish I had with him at all. It sounded good and I just couldn’t wait to see what he had.
I spent the remaining part of the day working on the project assigned to me by the chairman. It was going very well. I had all the resources I needed and just before the close of day, I was confident my plan was going to get us the job. I only needed some more time to finish up. I may have lost the drive if I decided to go home and so, I stayed back until the next day.
By morning I was done and couldn't wait to have Deji go through all I had put together. I knew the last time we spent together ended in a disaster after I woke up in his bed but I guess this project meant more than any of that. I was going to act like nothing happened. It wasn’t going to be easy but I was going to try. It was my best shot.
It was 9:30 am already. Thankfully, I was able to catch a little sleep for about two hours. I stood up to wash my face in the restroom in a bid to freshen up. I got back to my workspace and picked up the project file heading straight to Deji’s office. A few steps from the door, I started to develop cold feet. The scene from our last meeting flashed through my mind. How was I supposed to act like nothing happened?
After a few minutes of standing and looking into the clear space, I summoned courage, moved straight to the door and pushed it open.
“Hey Cleo, how's it going?” He asked as he pushed Ranti who about kissing him away.
“Can you give us a minute please?” He asked her taking a few steps away from her.
“Absolutely.” She said smiling at me. She didn’t need to say anything. I got the message quite clear. I had lost, she won and that meant no money.
“This is the project your dad asked that we work on together. I managed to put some ideas together. I will appreciate if you could go through and send in your feedback.” I said dropping the file on the table smiling and walking away gracefully.
“Cleo” I heard him call after I closed the door. I was never going to answer that. He could continue having fun with all the ladies at the company for all I care.I had made up my mind, I was going to act like nothing ever happened and that was what I was going to do. I wasn't sure if I felt sad or defeated but I was sure of one thing. I was comforted with the thought of my reward from the chairman having come up with brilliant ideas for the project. That could just make up for the bet I had just lost.
I walked straight to my workstation as quickly as my legs could take me. I felt as though something terrible had just happened. I wasn’t sure if I felt so terrible because I had obviously lost the bet which I hoped would give me the money for my mum’s surgery or because I felt cheated on; but ,I consoled myself asking the right question any sane person would ask; “were we even in a relationship?” There I was with no answer to this question and yet expecting exclusivity with a man who couldn’t be decent enough to give me a call after we spent a night together. I smiled to myself as I began to clear my desk. “So what exactly are we doing?” I asked myself again.
“Cleo c’mon you heard me call you and yet you walked out. Trust me, it’s certainly not what it looked like. Don’t pretend you didn’t notice she was the one all over me. She means absolutely nothing Cleo.” He voiced quietly looking around to be sure no one was listening and expecting a response.
I looked at him for a few seconds after I threw the last item in my laptop bag, thinking of the huge mess I got myself into. It was more than 24 hours after we last saw and I hadn’t had the time to get a morning after pill at the pharmacy or even visit the clinic for a check up.
I picked up my laptop bag and handbag and was walking out when he hurriedly walked to stand in front of me not minding anyone. It was too early to give him the impression that I was going to be the girl he could always get back after an apology.
“Cleo say something please”
“You really want me to say something?”
“Yes I do.” He said calmly reaching for my hand
“Okay then. Should I be bothered about any sexually transmitted diseases like HIV and the likes because I’m yet to visit the clinic?”
Immediately, he let go of my hand, stepped backwards and asked in disappointment, “Excuse me, what did you just say Cleo?”
Exactly what you just heard, I replied as I walked out.
I was only a few steps away from the exit door when I met the chairman walking in.
“It’s a good thing I met you both here. I bet you two were discussing the project. There’s been a change of plan. Can we meet in my office?”
Yes of course, I replied smiling and encouraging Deji to do the same.. I couldn’t afford to have him suspect we were doing otherwise.
“I got a call this morning from the organisation’s executive secretary. She said another ad agency came up with a similar proposal. The chairman looked at it and suggested that we both compete for it by delivering a compelling presentation. This is not to scare you but to let you know, I strongly believe in the both of you. I know you will bring this home.” He said confidently.
“You both can start working on it immediately.” He said patting our shoulders.
“I really need to be somewhere right now sir. There’s something very important I ought to have attended to earlier but i've been busy with this project. I informed Deji already. I’ll be back shortly.” I replied taking a second to look at him. He looked away not saying a word. He seemed upset but I couldn’t be bothered.
“Okay take your time. I’ll see you both before the end of the day.” The chairman said as he opened the door for me and I walked out .
CONTINUES IN THE NEXT EPISODE HERE