It has been a busy day for both of them, Imelda had been busy with writing and replying mails and also cancelling appointments for her Madam.
Three appointments has been cancelled already since Grace entered into a close door meeting with two other Heads of departments.
But one Number kept calling, insisting to speak with Grace,
“Sir she is in a meeting and will not be coming out soon” Imelda tried to be polite for the third time
“Put her through, just for few seconds it won’t take more than that” the Caller insisted
“I can’t do that sir, she instructed me not to disturb her for anything ” Imelda was getting impatient
“Then give me her private Number, that is all I ask for” I can’t do that either Sir
“We won’t be doing this if you had either put her through the line, or given me her private number, it is not a difficult task for you, is it? ” the caller continued
“Sir I can not give you her private number without her giving me the permission to do so, am sorry Sir, but I have to go now” Imelda said with finality
“I may make it worth your while young lady, you may not know what some extra cash can do for you”
Imelda heard the soft chuckle at The other end of the phone, she Imagined the triumphant dance in his eyes,
“Fifty thousand box just for a Number, damn it, young lady you are practically doing nothing than giving out a number ” The Caller continued
“What do you need the number for” Imelda asked after a little pause
“Allow me to worry about that, but I assure you that am not going to kidnap her or blackmail her”
“Fifty thousand for doing nothing?” Imelda thought, fifty thousand would be enough to make Ahmad happy for a while before she would receive Her salary by the end of the month.
Ahmad had asked her for a loan, promising to pay back when ever he gets some money, that would be one out of many loans Imelda has given him and was never paid back.
She doesn’t want to ask Grace for money again, the last time she had begged Grace for thirty thousand, with the story that her mother was sick. She also feel that Grace was becoming suspicious of her many lies.
This would be a good opportunity to get the money for Ahmad, and buy herself some peace.
“Send the Money then I give you the Number ”
She wasn’t sure if what she was doing was right
“good girl” the caller said with a laugh.
Grace left the board room first before other HOD’s, to answer the call that has persistently came through her phone during the meeting until she was forced to switch her phone off,
“Hello who is this ”
“Finally she decided to speak to me” said the excited voice at the other end
Grace did not find it funny, she really hoped that who ever the caller was, he didn’t disturb her during the meeting just to exchange pleasantries
“Who am I on to please “she said, walking down the hall to her office, the ‘click click’ from her shoes announced her entrance into the main hall, she gave an acknowledging nods to some worked as she walked towards her office
“Can you guess ” the caller continued playing with her
“look Mr, I don’t have time for Childish chit chat, it’s obvious you have nothing of importance to say, please have a good day… ”
“Wow lady! Chill, don’t be too serious with life… ”
“Being serious has gotten me to where I am today so… ”
Grace turned towards her office, she peered through Mary’s half closed door, Mary had her eyes glued to the television in the wall, definitely watching the Kadarshian show,
“ok it me, Me Morgan”
“Which Morgan?” Grace asked
“From Wilson Beverages”
Grace made an abrupt stop,
“What? ” She shouted, attracting the attentions of some workers
“Surprise I guess ” Mr Morgan was enjoying the reaction he got from her
“How did you get my Number?” she asked with a clinging teeth.
“Money talks babe, Money talks” he laughed
“it’s not funny Mr Morgan, I want to know who gave you my Private number” she insisted
“Don’t forget I can get anything I set my heart on, including your number babe” he said
“you have my official Number”
“I need to call you anytime, day or night, don’t forget, you still work for me” he answered
“I don’t think you acquired my Number just for the sake of the job we are doing for your company” Grace accused
“So what do you want?”
Grace walked towards Imelda’s desk, picked her keys, opened her door and walked inside her office.
“What do you think I want” Mr Morgan teased
“I don’t know” Grace got herself seated “you tell me” she said
“I want you Grace, be my girl” Mr Morgan said
“you are joking, seriously” Grace said
“I never joke with anything I want, so am asking again, Grace please date me” he assumed a serious tone
“I can’t believe you sir, you don’t even know me, we only met last week, how can… ” Grace was saying
“It takes just a day to know someone, and knowing a formidable lady like you will be a nice job I want to take up”
“You know what Sir?… ”
“call me Morgan”
“Morgan… I can’t date you please accept that” she said with finality
There was silence at the other end of the phone, then:
“I will not force you into doing anything Grace, but I will like you to promise me you will think about this” Morgan said
There was really nothing to think about as far as she was concerned, but she wanted to get him off her back and her phone,
“Are you?” Morgan continued
“Am I what? Oh! Sure I will think about it” she said
“OK that’s better, thank you”
The line went dead. She wanted to get angry at him but was surprised she wasn’t, rather she had a smile on her face.
She had that smile on when she got another message on her phone:
“thank you so much Sweet, I am expecting a positive response, sorry for the last time, I have missed you so much. K”
She read the message over again, what was Ken trying to do? Calling her Sweet? When was the last time she enjoyed the pleasure of hearing him call her that?
She was amused as much as she was confused.
She picked the office phone to call Imelda.
“I will be there in a minute Ma”
Imelda felt her heart pumping fast, she did not know why her Madam would be summoning her into the office.
“could it be that this unknown caller has
spilled the beans and told Madam that I gave him her Number?” she thought
She moved her chair backward, straightened her cloth and went into the office to face her Madam.
“Sit down Imelda” Grace said
She noticed how uncomfortable the young lady was and wondered why, May be she was feeling guilty about her relationship with the boss, Grace through.
“How are you Imelda” Grace asked her
“I’m fine ma” Imelda answers, relieved and surprised.
“Imelda I want to know what is going on with you, lately you seem to have lost some weight and your usual excitement, are you passing through some problems? “Grace asked with concern
“no ma, am just ehm… Watching my weight… “Imelda defended
“Don’t tell me that Imelda, you have always been Slim and have no reason to watch your weight”
Imelda held her head down in silence
“How is your mother’s health? is everything alright with her?” Grace asked
“She is ehm… Getting better Ma” Imelda lied
Grace sighed softly
“Imelda, talk to me, am sorry but I feel there is something going on with you, you have ehm… You have collected money from me three times in less than one month, and they are not small amounts…”
“Sorry Ma, I will really pay you back immediately I get my salary…” Imelda was uncomfortable now, Grace could see it in her countenance and the way she kept adjusting herself on the seat
“I am not interested in you paying me back Imelda, I want to know if you are in any sort of trouble, are you being blackmailed?”
“N… N… No Ma, not at all”
Grace looked at her for a while, wishing she could open up to her what ever it was that is making her this uncomfortable. Then she remembered the marks on her body
“I saw a some marks on your body last week and today” Grace carefully said, Observing her reaction
Imelda looked up shapely, fear was written all over her
“You are being abused Imelda” Grace added
“Who told you that Ma” Imelda asked
“You just told me now, the look on your face and your reaction when I said it, confirmed it” Grace said, looking at her with pity
Imelda couldn’t hold her gaze, she bent her head and was crying softly.
“It is Mr Ogungbeso, our boss, isn’t it?” Grace asked, not knowing who else to accuse
Anger was gradually boiling inside Grace, she held her desk firmly as if that would help her ease her anger, Imelda was still sobbing, Grace closed her eyes throw her head backward, breathe deeply,
“It’s him, it’s our boss, isn’t it?” she asked again
Imelda couldn’t answer, she couldn’t get herself together to say any word. Grace come to her, put her arms around her, giving Imelda the opportunity to lay her head on Grace’s arm as if her head was becoming too heavy for her neck, and cried loudly.
Chuka peered inside the office as the sound of a woman crying caught his attention, he was walking back to the general hall,
“Ma’am, I thought I heard you crying” he said before noticing Imelda’s moving shoulders to the rhythm of her sob.
“What happened? Has she been sacked?” he asked, giving Grace one of those unpleasant looks.
“No Chuka, she has not been sacked, now can you continue your walk back to your desk?” Grace challenged
“oh” he continued “ hope nothing serious sha” Chuka said as he left for his desk, he was a little bit disappointed that it wasn’t his ‘Straight Jacket’ boss who was crying, that would have been a good sight to behold, secondly he couldn’t get the gist of whatever that was making Imelda cry, he wouldn’t mind seeing the girl sacked, she has been acting b***hy since he asked her out,
“Common Dinner date o, the girl turned me down” he has told his colleague Yusuf.
Yusuf had laughed at him so hard that he felt little.
“Why are you laughing na, abi I no reach to toast that babe? Wetin she get sef, she carry Gold?” he had asked Yufus out of anger and defence.
Seeing her cry now gave him a little satisfaction, though he would have wanted her humiliated more,
“well, I will get my chance one of these days” he console himself.
“It’s okay Imelda, calm down and tell me everything” Grace was saying to Imelda.
Imelda wiped her eyes with the back of her hands, she looked around for the wipes her Madam used to keep on top of her table, sensing what she was looking for, Grace offered her hankie to her, she wiped the mucus from her nose, while shaking her head in the negative.
“No… no Oga is not responsible Ma” she said in a low voice
Grace was more confused, she knew Imelda had lost her father, and her mother couldn’t be the one beating her up and leaving marks on her body.
“But …But who is responsible?” Grace asked, she had walked back to her chair
Imelda was quiet for a while, she had never wanted to talk to anyone about Ahmad, she felt Ahmad would feel betrayed if he get to know that she told anyone about his constant beatings, since he had always promised to change once he get a job and become financially buoyant.
“Imelda?” Grace called her, demanding answers
“He didn’t meant to treat me like this Ma, Just that he is frustrated” Imelda said
“Who is this ‘HE’” Grace asked
“Ahmad…my boyfriend” Imelda rreplied
“What?” Grace exclaimed
“He wasn’t like this before, but as he couldn’t get any job for more than three years now, he took to drinking and smoking, and … and… and hitting me” she said, looking away
“How long has this been going on?” grace asked
“I can’t remember again ma, just that it’s became frequent since last year ma, he is feeling that I’m indirectly insulting him because he has no job and couldn’t pay his rent” Imelda said
“Where does he stay?”
“I asked you where your Boyfriend stays at the moment” Grace emphasized
“Ehm… he stays …with me” it was difficult for her to say this, knowing what her Madam would think
“And he is the person you have been borrowing for? You have been spending your salary on?” Grace was more surprised that angry, she couldn’t understand how an enlightened young girl would fall prey to this kind of emotional blackmail
“He will pay me when he finally get a job …”
“And how did you know that?” Grace cut in
“I don’t know… he said he will… I trust him Ma”
“Yet he beats you at every provocation? Treats you as a piece of dirt? Take away your radiation, your life and your money? What made you think he will not leave you once he gets a job?” Grace asked
Imelda said nothing, she couldn’t answer those questions herself, she was beginning to have doubts on her relationship with Ahmad, and if Ahmad truly love her
“So when is he getting this Job, and what effort has he made to get this dream job?” Grace asked, relaxing backward on her chair.
“We are trying Ma, but you know Lagos now, it is not easy to get the king of Job he said he want” Imelda defended
“Hmmm!” was all Grace could say
“I even pleaded with Oga, our Boss to help me secure him a job” she said this before she caught herself “Though I told Oga that he is my Brother”
This revelation brought back the picture Grace saw some weeks ago, at Mr Ogungbeso’s office, the sex, the look on Imelda’s face, that wasn’t ecstasy like she thought, that was pain masked with acting just to please her boss. Grace Narrowed her eyes and looked directly at Imelda,
“I saw you having sex with Oga the other day…”
Imelda was shocked, she looked at Grace sharply before looking away.
“Does that explain anything?” Grace asked
“I didn’t want to do it o, he forced me…”
“He forced you? I don’t understand… like he raped you?”
“No Ma, but …but he said he will not help me get Ahmad a job if I don’t sleep with him”
“How many times have you slept with him?”
“I slept with him once, I told him I won’t do it again, but he kept coming back”
“Has he gotten your boyfriend the job he promised” Grace asked
“No ma, he said he is working out something for him, that I should be patient” Imelda answered
“Then why do you allow him use you like this, not that he even has the right to blackmail you into sleeping with him in the first place” Grace was visibly angry
“He threatened me that he will sack me if I do not continue with him”
“What? This is serious, your Dumb ass boyfriend has been manipulating you and abusing you for long, your boss is equally taking advantage of your vulnerability, and you are not speaking out? Young lady, what is wrong with you? Do you enjoy being used?…”
“Ahmad will change, he only need a jo…”
“Will you shut up? Shut it! If you were my sister I would have slapped some senses into you, gush! I can’t believe this”
Grace was trying without success to control her Anger, she closed her eyes for a while, took a deep breath and opened her eyes again
“So do you still want to continue having sex with your Boss in exchange of …whatever?” grace asked with a dramatic wave of fingers
“No Ma, am just scared of losing my job too” Imelda answered
“Don’t worry about that…”
“Ma please don’t confront him, don’t let him know I told you about this” Imelda Pleaded
“I said you shouldn’t worry yourself” Grace assured
“We also have to do something about your crazy Ahmad”
“Ah! Ma… no o o, Ahmad will kill me M, please don’t do anything, don’t report to anybody , I know how to handle him, he is a sweet person if you get to know him better, he is just frustrated..” Imelda pleaded
“I see how sweet he has been to you, with the designs on your body, guess that is a tattoo of love abi?” Grace said with disgust
“Imelda… its late, go home and think about what you want, think whether you deserve the treatment you are getting now, also ask yourself when last you got yourself something nice from the salaries you have been paid here so far”
Grace scrabbled her address on a piece of paper, and handed it over to Imelda
“Here, find your way to my house when you finally make the decision”
As she watched Imelda leave, with shoulders sagged and head bowed in dejection, she wondered:
Maybe, Just maybe she needed a perfect plan to put an end to the intimidation being meted on this young lady, and Mary would be a perfect ally for that plan to work, as for Ahmad…
“hmm…” she sighed, running her fingers on her chin unconsciously
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