She was on the verge of giving into the despair when Life called. NaNoWriMo 2018
I knew it, but I preferred things this way, than being stuck in Lagos traffic, and arriving late.
Besides, I knew I would not be the only one being interviewed for the job, and I wanted to be one of the first few the team would have seen, before they got tired.
Asda hotel was easy to find - Google Maps really works in Lagos, and for this I am grateful.
I smiled as I entered the huge hotel lobby, and spotted another person waiting. Obviously I was not the only one with the "early bird" idea.
"Hi there," I said to the receptionist as I got to the desk. "I'm here for an interview with Populoo. Am I at the right place?"
"Yes you are, Miss." she replied. "But you are to remain in the lobby until the interview begins in two hours. Please can you wait in the lobby?"
I nodded and walked up to the other occupant. She also wore a suit, in the same somber shade as mine, but that is where the similarity ended. Unlike me, she exuded the confidence that comes from being born with privilege.
"Hi there," I said, and extended my hand. she barely touched it in response. I fought to maintain my smile as we exchanged names.
What was it with some people anyway? Feeling snobbish and not even responding to greetings, especially at interviews, never made sense to me. Populoo had more than one vacancy, so what gave her the idea that we may be applying for the same job?
I sat for only a few minutes, before I spotted a mini gallery down the hall, and excused myself as I went to check it out.
Asda hotel screamed LUXURY in capital letters, from the lush carpeting to the dazzling chandeliers. The mini art gallery in front of me was no exception. The paintings were really large, depicting nature scenes from all four seasons. The one that captivated me the most was the one of the ocean, in spring. I was staring so intently, that I did not hear the footsteps behind me early enough.
"What do you think the artist is trying to say?" a low voice asked right behind me.
Without turning around, I answered, "She is saying that life is not as it seems. The surface may look calm, but at the lower aspects of society, behind closed doors, chaos may be the order of the day."
I waited for a witty response for a few minutes, only to turn around and realize I was alone.
Maybe I imagined it, I thought with a smile. I had liked the timbre of the voice though, I could just describe it in one of my novellas.
Ten minutes later, I had been able to draw ID into conversation at the second try. She had ordered for a drink and I did the same, while I glanced at my watch in anticipation of the call to the interview room.
This was the tenth interview I was invited to since I returned to Lagos. I have been frantically trying to get a job so that supporting myself would be easier.
I hope this would be the last, I prayed fervently. ID excused herself to the ladies, while I decided to read through my cover letter again.
My heart skipped a bit as I looked up to see three guys in black suits walking in my direction. I try to calm myself down, as I was seated close to the elevators - anyone going up to any other floor would definitely head my way.
But they slowed down, and stopped right in front of me. I force myself to look up at each of them.
"Come with us," the one in the middle said.
What type of company used goons to summon their interview candidates? I wondered. Couldn't they have just rung reception to tell me to come up?
I rise slowly, and then bend to take a final sip of my drink, before grabbing my plastic folder, when one of them quipped, "You wont be needing that, I assure you."
"What kind of interview will it be if I don't take my portfolio with me?" I retort back, taking it anyway.
As we headed towards the elevators, I ask,
"So how does this work?"
I got no response. Typical.
That was the last thing I remember.
<center>* * *
Something was off.
I could feel it in my body, as I woke up slowly. I felt languid, like my body had been stretched in places that had not had any exercise in a long time. The bed beneath me felt soft, but strange, and the pillow was just the way I liked it, not too soft, not too hard. Definitely not the pillow I had to fight every night, at home. I stifled a yawn as I opened my eyes.
I swallowed a scream. I was staring at a man's back.
Where am I?
My eyes roamed the room, which was stunning, but something told me it was a hotel room, not a home. The lush carpeting, the drapes at the window, the gigantic TV across the room, everything screamed luxury, but it was overstated opulence, no personal touch.
My eyes roamed back to the man on the bed, and instead of the broad back, met grey eyes. My first instinct was to shrink back but I clenched my teeth and stared back.
"I see you are finally awake." he said. "I have a couple of questions for you. Ready?"
I nodded my head.
"Who are you and what are you doing in my bed?"
That was not what I expected to hear.
I blinked in confusion.
"Are you dumb too?" he thundered, and this time I flinched.
"Is that what you ask your kidnap victims?" I blurted out.
It was his turn to blink, but he recovered faster.
"If this is a prank by Leo, you must put an end to it at once, because I am not laughing." he snapped. "I am waiting for the answer to my questions."
"I ....I ..." I stammered. "I don't know."
He raised an eye brow, and all of a sudden, looked very familiar. But before I could blink, he spoke again.
"What do you mean you don't know?" he asked incredulously.
I feel soo lost, and confused - for the first time in my life, I cannot remember my previous actions.
"What I remember is that I got to Asda hotel, two hours early for my interview." I mumble. "Some men from the company came to call me when it was time, and I entered the elevator with them."
I looked down at myself, and realized I was naked. Totally naked.
Oh. My. God. What am I doing here?
"What am I doing here?" I shout, "Who are you and where are my clothes?"
<center>* * *
I cannot believe what I am hearing. Surely this girl should know better than to act dumb with me.
I watch her as she starts to shrink back into the bedrests behind her, dragging the duvet to cover her breasts.
Those breasts caught my attention as she began panting. I remembered the taste of those breasts, the pert nipples in my mouth, and I could already feel a hard on coming.
She was a wonder in bed, so innocent, so pure, it was an aphrodisiac just seeing how she responded to my every touch.
It was as if she had never been with a man before. Well, almost. She was no virgin.
Needless to say, I enjoyed the whole day with her, and would have taken her to my yacht for the rest of the weekend if I had not gotten a call from Benita.
Dear Benita was the go-to person when one needed to "de-stress" in the age-old way. She was discreet and one could be sure there would never be a scandal. She never failed to deliver, that is, until today.
"My chairman sir," Benita had said. "I wish you had let me know you did not like my selection, instead of keeping her waiting in the hotel lobby all day sir."
"Keeping who waiting?" I had repeated, as I turned around to look at the beauty beside me.
"ID Sir," Benita replied. "The girl I chose for you for today."
When I did not respond, she continued. "She has been in Asda hotel lobby, waiting for you since morning sir."
"You can confirm that?" I asked.
"Yes sir," Benita replied. "She is still there sir. Did you mean to have her for the weekend then? Maybe I made the mistake and sent her too early?"
"Let me call you back in a minute please" I respond.
My call to Odia, my head of security, confirms my fears. There really was a lady, in a dark suit, waiting for me at reception, since morning. That was when I moved away from the girl in my arms and sat up.
"Odia, please meet with the girl in the lobby, and ask her who she was with this morning." I say into the phone.
It was Odia that escorted this girl to the penthouse, so he understood what I wanted to find out immediately.
That was thirty minutes ago.
Now, beauty was awake, and acting fearful.
"You have still not answered my questions," I tell her. "Do you want me to repeat them for you?"
"My name is Obi and I don't know what I am doing in your bed." she says calmly.
"Who put you up to this?" I ask, seeing that her eyes were roaming round the room - most likely she was looking for her clothes.
"Your clothes are on the floor beside you," I add. "And you can stop the shy act - after all we have done today, being naked in front of me is no more a big deal."
She had been reaching for her clothes as I spoke, but she stopped midway and focused on me.
"All we have done today?" she repeats, to which I raise an eyebrow.
How could she have forgotten? I wondered. She was taking all the acting too far.
She turned back and picked up her clothes in one grab. She looked around wildly, searching for the bathroom door, then ran into it and shut herself in.
I had to make some calls anyway. I needed the truth.
<center>* * *
What I could see got blurry as I locked the bathroom door. I could not remember the last eight hours of my life.
I stared at my body, and I just knew I must have had sex with the stranger on the other side of the door. Crazy wild sex.
I had broken my wedding vows barely two years since I left Femi.
No time for a pity party here. It did not seem like I was a prisoner, so the earlier I escaped from the whole place the better.
All through the time I showered, dressed up and reached for the door, I refused to look at any reflective surface. I could not stand myself.
I stepped out of the room, and got a good look at the man, before he noticed I was back.
He was not too tall, maybe five eleven. He was not too old either, but there was at least half a decade in age between us. He was fit, and had a flatter tummy than me.
He had been talking on the phone, but slowed down when he turned and saw me.
"Ready to leave?" he asked.
I nodded my head, not sure if he was jesting with me. For all I know, I was headed for some ritualist's altar.
"I did not kidnap you Obi," he said, as if reading my thoughts. "You are free to leave. This is just an awful mixup. The person I was to ...er....see, is the lady you met in the lobby. My people made the mistake of bringing you to me instead."
When I did not say anything in response, he sighed.
"Your handbag is at the foyer of the suite." he said, still staring at me. "Would you be needing a lift home?"
I blinked several times, before shaking my head in the negative.
"Are you er..." he began. "Are you on the pill?"
It took a few minutes to fully understand what he was asking. I shook my head again. That was the last straw that broke the dam of tears I had been fighting to hold back.
I was separated from my husband, looking for a job. I was not a hooker for hire. And now I had just had hours of unprotected sex with a stranger.
How did I get here?
I dashed my tears away, and turned to leave before he changed his mind.
As I ran to the elevator, I rummaged my purse for my phone. I would use an Uber to get home.
The elevator was on its way down when it struck me: I did not even know his name.
<center>* * *
I've got to hand it to her, she is brave.
She was fighting tears, could barely trust her voice, yet she stood her ground in front of me.
I let my mind think about the implications of what had happened. She could sue me for rape and any other sexual assault charge her lawyers can trump up, when they know who I am and what I am worth. I pictured the media frenzy that would follow:
Bimbo Fowler rapes girl.
Billionnaire socialite, Bimbo Fowler, is being sued for rape.
Popular actor, Leo Fowler's brother, Bimbo Fowler gets prostitute pregnant.
The last one rang a bell - I did not use a condom. I sighed, as I reached for my phone. I had a lot to do.
Three hours later, I was sitting on the terrace, with my second sister Rose. Rose is my step mum's only daughter, and looks so much like her late mother, sometimes it makes me pause for breath. She got Victoria's easy going nature as well, and bubbly laugh. I am happy that she found love early and is successful in her career as an accountant.
I watch her as she takes a sip from her drink.
"What have you done this time Big bro?" she asks, peering at my face closely.
Out of all my family, she is the one that I am closest to. She takes care of me, and worries about me, like my late mother would have. Her husband, Dejo, jokes that he knows he has three kids, and I am the oldest. Rose is also my confidante, and my sounding board for any new ideas I have - don't blame me, out of all my siblings, she is the best at keeping secrets.
"I don't know where to begin." I say to the table.
"That bad?" Rose asks, staring at me even closer. "What happened?"
When I remain silent, she adds, "If its money, you know its not something to worry about, right? We wont judge you at all. Every billionaire makes his or her mistakes once in a while."
If only it were that simple.
"I wish it was money Rose" I mutter. "I spent the whole day in bed with a girl who is not a prostitute. She apparently came for an interview in this same hotel, and thought my men were sent to summon her for it."
At Rose's incredulous face, I raise my left hand to stall her outburst.
"Before you judge her, let me add the facts. She met someone waiting at the lobby. What she did not know, was that the other girl is an escort. When I went to check her out, I had no idea she was not the girl I was expecting because I saw only her, at the art gallery where we were supposed to meet. And when my guys got to her, she was the only lady at the lobby at that moment."
"How did you find out?" Rose asks.
"I got a call from my...ah...source," I reply. "She asked why I kept her girl waiting all day. I waited for the girl to wake up and confronted her."
"What did she say?" asks Rose.
"At first she thought I kidnapped her." I answer.
"What?" Rose exclaims.
"Calm down." I add. "I assured her it was a case of mistaken identity."
"So where is she now?" Rose asks.
"She has gone." I reply.
"You let her go?" Rose asks, incredulous. "What if she runs to the press? Knowing who you are?"
"Your brother is not as popular as you think, Rose." I reply her. "This girl does not appear to know who I am at all."
"Impossible," Rose says. "Even if she does not know who you are in the business world, or that you own this hotel, she will at least have watched Leo's movies."
"I actually thought Leo set me up," I say wryly, watching as Rose rises and starts pacing.
"If she planned it, she hit jackpot." Rose says, thinking as her legs eat up the floor. "I cannot believe your security detail made such a blunder. And how does one agree to have sex for an interview? Is that how desperate people have become now for a job?"
"She was drugged." I interrupt Rose. For some reason, I am bent on defending the girl. "Odia searched the other girl. She had all kinds of drugs in her purse. She admitted to spiking her own drink with ecstacy. She also said the other girl's drink was just tonic water but she swore she did not drug the girl."
"So how come she agreed to sleep with you?" Rose asks, stopping right before me.
"My irrestitible charm?" I ask, smiling. Rose rolled her eyes and continued pacing. I told her the truth.
"Odia reviewed the CCTV tapes. When they went to fetch her, Obi grabbed the other girl's drink by mistake, and downed it in one gulp."
Rose's eyes widen in disbelief.
"You want to watch it?" I ask her.
"No, I believe you, Bims." she replies. "But this is stranger than fiction. Are you sure she wont come back and shout rape? She can even claim she was pregnant o. You did use protection, right?"
"You better call Doctor Harrison and get checked up for any STD," Rose mutters.
"I doubt I caught anything from her," I reply, as I hand over Obi's folder to Rose. "Obi forgot this. Please read through the cover letter and her CV and tell me whether she seems like that kind of person."
"Poor girl," Rose mutters, as she collects the folder from me. "I bet when she woke up this morning, her greatest worry was how she would impress the interview panel and land a job."
Halfway through scanning the documents, she raised her head and looked at me.
"Wait. Why are you talking to me about this?" she asks. "Why call me into this?"
"What do you mean why?" I ask back.
"You don't need my opinion about what to do." she replies, looking at me closely. "I am sure your security is even handling everything right now. You did not need to tell me at all."
I turn away to face the view behind me. Even I did not have an answer to that question.
"Unless there is more to this," Rose continues. "You like her don't you?"
"what does that matter?" instead of a response, I ask. "I just needed a female point of view about this, so I can get my lawyer ready."
"Yeah right," Rose smirks. "And I have a pile of snow in Antarctica I would like you to buy."
Why did Rose have to be so perceptive?
"Read the folder Rose," I add. "Tell me afterwards if you like her or not."
"You didn't answer my question." Roe sang as she turned her attention back to the folder and documents in her hands. "But what you want me to do has become quite clear."
<center>* * *
It has been three months since my "kidnap". When I got home that day, I simply told my mother that I had been a victim of mistaken identity, and she should thank God that I am alive and free.
For days, I could not bring myself to leave the house at all. I just wanted to hide away from the world. A week later, I had to final the mental prison after realizing that the more I thought about what had happened, the more the parts I desperately wanted to forget kept coming back to me in vivid detail.
Especially the sex.
I never considered myself a sexual being. I was a virgin when I married Femi, and was totally clueless as to what to expect in the bedroom. I never enjoyed sex with him, and eventually surmised that I must be frigid.
But the Obi that slept with that man that day was different. Free. Uninhibited. Reckless. She was bold. Fearless. And she enjoyed every inch of him as much as he enjoyed every inch of her. That Obi experienced more than one orgasm that day, something that I never had during my eight years of marriage.
That was not me. I don't know what came over me that day. Honestly, I feel like another spirit entered me, the minute I stepped onto the foyer of that penthouse.
"Obi!" My mum calls from the door. I busy myself with the laundry. I have been avoiding sitting with her for two days now, partly because I did not want to be scrutinized too closely.
Niyi resumed school the second week after my experience, and I had no excuse to hide away at home anymore. I also had bills to pay, as my savings were getting low.
So I turned around and stopped searching for a job. I created a fresh website, showcasing all the little WordPress plugins I had developed, and put small prices on them. It was supposed to be a portfolio, showcasing my past work and what I am capable of doing.
I had barely finished setting up the ecommerce shop when someone ordered the first plugin. And then a day later, another order came through. And another. Before the month had gone by, I had some money in my account again, and I had requests to create another plugin.
I realized I could actually live on this while I hunted for contract work online. Definitely remote work henceforth - no more live, physical interviews for me.
"Obi, why are you avoiding me," Mum says from behind me. I sigh in response.
Trust my Shrink mother to cut to the chase.
"I am not feeling too well mum," I mumble. "I don't want you to worry about it, as I intend to take care of myself."
"Do you want to go to the hospital?" she asks. "Confirm it is not typhoid?"
"Ok mum," giving in to her is the fastest way to move forward, believe me. "We can go on Saturday, okay? I have some stuff to finish up before the week runs out."
"So how far with the job hunt?" she asks. "Any success?"
"No mum," I reply, looking away. Telling her that I am no more looking for a nine to five job would be like explaining life on Mars to a dinosaur. I just did not bother.
Saturday arrived but I was not glad to see it. I woke up with severe pains in my tummy. So strong I crawled to Mum's room and hit the door at floor level.
When I saw how alarmed she was, I forced myself into a sitting position, and begged her through clenched teeth, to call her driver to take me to the hospital.
"Oh my Word," she sobbed, looking behind me at my room. I followed her gaze, and saw the trail of blood. That is when I fainted.
"So you are saying that my daughter is pregnant?"
Those were the words that I heard as I woke up. I kept my eyes closed a while longer.
"I believe your daughter was about three months pregnant ma," a male voice replies my mum. "She lost the baby. We tried our best to evacuate whatever was left, to avoid infection."
"We are sorry for your loss Ma," the man adds. "Your daughter is alright now, and you brought her just in time."
"That's fine," Mum replies. "Thank you for saving her."
I keep my eyes closed a while longer, and turn to face the wall, away from the day light.
Pregnant? Three months? I'm close to tears again, but I have mixed feelings. I mourn the child that would never be, and feel the rush of relief that I did not have to look for the father, to let him know, if the child had survived.
For a brief second, I picture the man's face, as I remember, the big eyes, watching my every move, then the face changes to anger that I am sure he would express if I told him what we had done had created a child. Of course he would expect that I wanted money, and not believe me.
I sigh again, and turn to face my Mum, but she is not the one at my bedside when I open my eyes.
<center>* * *
My eyes roamed her body then rose back to her head. She seemed leaner, tired. I caught a glipse of her baggy eyelids and gaunt cheeks as she turned her face towards me, then away again, eyes still closed. Odia's report did not mention that. Then she sighed, turned to face me again, and opened her eyes.
I would have laughed at the way she rubbed at her eyes in disbelief, if I wasn't so angry with her.
"You." she says.
"Yes, me." I reply. "Why did you?"
For a moment, she does not understand, and frowns in confusion.
"I did not!" she shouts, when she figures it out. "I didn't even know!"
"My periods have never been regular." she adds. "I once went a year without it. I just thought it was one of those times. What are you doing here?"
I could not answer that question because I didn't know either. How do you tell someone you hardly knew that you miss them? I didn't know how to.
What started as monitoring, to ensure she would not do anything stupid, became an obsession to know what she was up to. Every day, I could not sleep until I had found out what she had been up to as well. It didn't matter where I was at the time. Be it Rome, Australia or Atlanta, she had become a daily staple in my head, even more than my family. Odia did a good job in gathering the Intel I requested, about Obi. In seven days, I knew everything about her, from the minute she was born. Then I read her daily activities, visited her new website, and saw pictures of her son Niyi on her Facebook page. Heck, I even ordered surveillance on the jerk she married, Femi Olajide. I knew her as much as any of her close friends by now, yet she somehow remained a mystery to me.
"Has my mother seen you?" she asks. "If not, you can still leave unnoticed Sir."
The title made me cringe. Sir?
"Why?" I ask. "Are you ashamed of me?"
"I would rather not try to explain how we met sir." she replies with a tight expression.
"What did you tell her happened?" I ask. I had wondered about that. There had been no chatter about it anywhere, even Rose had been surprised and then apprehensive, because she worried the girl would scream rape after a few weeks.
"Kidnap." she mumbles, closing her eyes briefly. "Amnesia."
"Are you in pain?" I ask.
"Not really," she replies, grimacing as she tries to sit up.
"I don't think it's a good idea to do that just yet." I say to her. "Why not relax some more?"
She shakes her head.
"The earlier I get better, the cheaper my hospital bill will be."
"Never mind that," I find myself saying. "I have already taken care of it all."
She stares at me in consternation.
"At the risk of sounding ungrateful, did you think of how I would explain the paid bills to my mum?" she asks.
I had not thought that far.
"I see," she mumbles. "Where is she by the way?"
"She went to see the doctor." I reply. "I told him to take as long as possible with the meeting."
"Let me not delay you any further." she says. "I suspect you came to ensure that nothing will spill on your good name. I did not tell anyone what really happened. I did not know I was pregnant and I did not abort the...baby."
Her voice broke at the last word.
"So you're free to leave now." she adds. "I will find a way to explain the paid bills to my mum."
"You cannot dismiss me like I am some child." I reply, outraged.
No one tells Abimbola Fowler what to do. No one.
I'm about to tear into her when I notice her downcast expression.
"I don't want to seem more stupid than you already think I am Sir." she says quietly. "My stupidity got me into this mess. Please let us put it all behind us, pretend we never met."
"Putting it behind us does not mean ending the ..." I say to her bowed head.
"I am waiting for which word you would use to describe this," she says, raising her head.
"Friendship." I say. "I would rather see it as the beginning of one."
<center>* * *
I could not believe my ears.
What do I have to offer this man? Even though I did not know his name, I was sure that he belonged at the upper crust of the elite in the country. The hotel room I found myself was testament to that.
He must have seen the incredulity on my face.
"Let's start afresh," he continued, extending his hand for a handshake. "My name is Abimbola Fowler. You are?"
"Obi Adetunji" I reply automatically, raising my arm for the handshake.
"Pleased to make your acquaintance," he says, holding onto my hand for longer than necessary.
I made a point of collecting it back, before asking pointedly, "How can I help you Mr. Fowler?"
"I notice you did not ask me how I found you," he switched the conversation neatly. "Are you not surprised?"
"Frankly I am not," I reply. "The last time I saw your guard, they looked very capable of finding anything you need, including your "loose ends"."