Jide stood stock-still, mouth open in shock, his right hand, stained with the savoury stew from the bowl, heldaway from his body. Florence’s words echoed in his head.….broken glass…sprinkled… “What?!” he finally gasped out.
“Glass? How?” Florence was still hunched over the bowl of food on Jide’s table, digging through it with a pen. “I noticed the reflection of the light on a piece of glass. At first I thought it was foil that had somehow gotten into the food, but when I saw more glinting, I knew something was wrong.” She shoved the bowl away and stood up, shaking. She showed him the pen in her hand. “Look here, that’s a pretty big piece of glass. My God! Why would people be so careless? And there’s so much glass!” Jide peered at the pen, his heart pounding as he saw the piece of glass. It was so tiny he would have missed it, but Florence with her sharper eyes had noticed the pieces just in time. “It’s easy to miss.” Florence said. “If you had felt anything gritty in your mouth, you may have just assumed it was sand and washed it down withwater. This is really irresponsible of whoever cooked this. My goodness!”“I came back from lunch to see this bag of food on my desk.” Jide said ina dazed voice. “I just assumed it wasyou who kept it there.” Florence shook her head. “Not at all, sir. When Mr Ajibade went out for lunch, I locked his office and dashed down to get something from a colleague downstairs, then returned before him, after just fifteen minutes.”“Was Nancy at her desk when you returned?” Jide asked. Florence hesitated. Nancy had indeed been gone from her desk, andFlorence realized that when the other secretary returned about twenty minutes after her, she had not gone near Jide’s office door, which meant she left it unlocked while she went out. It was against company policy. If she reported it, Nancy could get a query or even worse. “I think she only stepped out for a few minutes.” Florence finally said.Jide frowned, hearing the caution in Florence’s voice. “Well, whatever the case was, either she dropped this here or someone entered my office and did.”[b]Florence nodded and walked to the door.[b] “I’ll ask her sir.” Jide walked over to the little restroom in his office to wash his hands as she went out. He returned to his table and used a paper towel to pick up the piece of meat on the floor, staring at it and then at the spreading circles of oil on his shirt. Just what the hell was going on?“She didn’t drop it or see anyone do it.” Florence was back in the office, shaking her head worriedly. “Maybe someone downstairs received the package and just brought it up to theoffice. I’ll go down and ask…”“What if this wasn’t just inefficiency, Florence?” Jide said thoughtfully, dropping the piece of meat in the waste basket. “What if this was deliberate?” Florence looked unconvinced. “Sir, we really can’t be sure…”“This is the second time my life has been on danger within two weeks.” Jide said firmly, his conviction growing. “That’s two coincidences too much.” He looked at Florence, seeing the unconvinced look in her eyes. “It may sound like a far-fetched theory, but I’m not takingany chances. Please help me clean up the mess on the table and floor and don’t throw this food away. Justkeep it somewhere. I know what to do.”
Florence watched him, wide-eyed, ashe shrugged a blazer over his stained shirt and moved towards hisoffice door. “Sir, what are you going to do?” Jide paused at the door, eyes blazing with anger. “I have two suspects and one of them is right here in this building. It’s time to take the bull by the horns.”“Be careful.” Florence whispered, herwords swallowed by the sound of the door banging shut. She shuddered as she looked at the bowlof deadly food. What if she had not been here to stop Jide from digging in? What would have happened?
The possibilities were too horrible to dwell on.** **Anita Bankole dropped her phone, cursing beneath her breath. “That’s the problem with sending a man to do a woman’s job. They always fudge it up!” she fumed to herself. Her plan for revenge obviously wasn’t working. She would have to think of something else…Her eyes widened, false lashes fluttering in surprise as her office door flew open. Angry words died onher lips as she saw who had burst into her office, her secretary following closely behind him, protesting his brash entry. “It seems barging into the office of your superiors has become a new habit for you, Jide Babalola.” Anita said between gritted teeth.Jide glared at her, jaw tight. There was no iota of apology in his voice when he spoke.
“My bad.” Anita threw a glance at her secretary, using her chin to gesture for the woman to leave the office. “You seem to have forgotten your place in the scheme of things aroundhere, Jide.” She said, when the door closed behind the secretary. “Your place is beneath me.”“I can remember being on top a few times recently.” Jide said, crossing his arms. “I don’t remember hearing any complaints.” Anita held back a surge of fury at hisallusion to their affair, and instead showed her teeth in a tight smile. “You think you’re witty, right? There are ways to shut that mouth of yours.” Jide nodded, pacing in front of her desk. “Yes, I know. That’s why I’m here. You know, there’s this local saying that if a witch oppresses you in your dreams you should confront her to scare her into staying away.” Anita leaned back in her chair, eyes narrowed as they followed Jide’s to-and-fro movement. “And what is the essence of this rural lesson?” Jide stopped pacing and stared at Anita. “Well I’m here to confront you.You just tried to have me taken out, didn’t you?” He waited her out, watching as she chuckled and stood up from behind her desk, smoothing her wine-red dress over her jutting hips. She walked over to the side of her table and perched on a corner of it, crossing her arms in amusement.Jide braced himself for a denial, but the words that came out of Anita’s mouth hit him like a physical blow. “And so what if I did?”
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