… the world through the eyes of the rambler.
Waiting in the wings, the story so far:
Against the backdrop of bright yellow curtains, Tracy sat on a chair near the foot of the bed – reading an old edition of Cosmopolitan, when Julia’s call came in.
“Runaway sister…” Julia’s soft tones drawled in her ear.
“Good of you to talk,” Tracy attacked immediately. “You abandoned me Julia. You don’t have an idea what I’ve been going through.”
She could hear her twin sigh. Julia never stopped acting like she was the more matured one. Even when they were kids. It was always Tracy breaking things, and Julia picking up the pieces. Well, Tracy wasn’t exaggerating. She had been going through hell.
“Oh, don’t start with the melodrama Trace.” Julia laughed, imagining Tracy up to her old tricks again. She was always wanting to put the other person on the defensive. “I’ve seen Nick, and he didn’t mention that anything was wrong.”
“You saw Nick?” Tracy exclaimed, jumping to her feet and knocking the copy of Cosmo from her lap to the floor. “Where? When? How?”
“What do you mean where? In Miami of course. He said you couldn’t accompany him because you had malaria.”
Tracy began pacing the room, feeling quite agitated. Her hands pressed the mobile phone tightly to her ear. “He lied Julia. I had no idea he was out of the country. It’s like things are much worse than I thought.” The twins had never kept a secret from each other, so Tracy thought nothing of sharing the intimate details of her relationship with her sister.
“I haven’t seen or spoken to Nick in two weeks. The last time he visited me, we had a big fight and he left my place angrily. Ever since then, he’s switched off his phone. That snotty secretary of his refused to give me his private line, the one he reserves for select business associates? She told me in that uppity voice of hers: if Mr Nicholas wanted you to have the number Miss Jang, he would have given it to you himself.” Tracy mimicked. “I was so mad, I wanted to drive down to the office and give her a good piece of my mind. Only I knew Nicholas would never forgive me if I did that. That was what stopped me Julia, I swear. She has always hated me. Ever since Nicholas and I…”
“Hey, hey… Trace… hold on there.” Julia interrupted firmly. Tracy was virtually unstoppable when she got into one of her ‘me against the world’ tirades. “You need to calm down dearest. I don’t know how things are between you two, but Nicholas is here in Miami. In fact, we’re staying at the same hotel.”
“I can’t believe this.” Tracy sank back on the chair, feeling dazed. Hair tumbling in luxurious waves over her shoulder, she began scratching imaginable itches on her scalp. She didn’t know what to do, or think for that matter.
“I think he’s cheating on me Julia.” She admitted finally. “I love him so much that it’s been eating at me for the past couple of months. I keep thinking he’ll walk in one day and tell me it’s over.”
Julia’s voice was reassuring. “You’re worrying for nothing… Nick is crazy about you. Anyone who has seen the two of you together can attest to that. Besides, I’ve seen him on and off in the past three days. Every time he talks about you Trace, it’s with a lot of love.””
“He’s pretending.” Tracy dismissed. “I have it on good authority that Nick has rented another apartment at Utako. Some workers are there, remodeling as we speak. Tell me sis, why would Nick rent an apartment when he’s got a big house?”
“A family obligation?” Julia suggested mildly. If what Tracy said was true, it would appear suspicious.
“His folks are based in the UK. He doesn’t have any family in Nigeria that I know of.”
“Perhaps you should ask him then? Assumptions can be quite costly you know.”
“That’s just it.” Tracy wailed. “I can’t ask him because I’m so scared of what the answer will be.” She got up and paced the floor a couple of times. The restlessness she felt was beginning to make her stomach queasy. Wary, she lay flat on the bed.
“I’ve been so miserable. Jeez, the only thing I can do is snipe at him in hopes that he’ll eventually fess up. He’s just so damn stubborn. If only he would admit it, then we can work on our relationship and move past it.”
“Really?” Julia sounded skeptical. “If he admits he’s been cheating on you, you’re just going to move past it?”
“Well, what else can I do?” Tracy asked exasperatedly. “Nick is not the kind of man you fight with for too long. You saw what he did this time Julia, he left Nigeria without telling me.”
“Maybe he just needs some space or time to think.” Julia replied tiredly. All she wanted was an uncomplicated conversation with her sister. Not this tale of woe and gloom.
“You don’t know Nick.” Tracy insisted. With an ardent expression on her face, she said:
“Talking to him at times is like talking to a brick wall. If Nick doesn’t want you to know something, you can cry all the tears in the world, but you’re still not knowing it.”
“I’m sorry.” Julia managed. She thought Tracy had no idea how good she had it. What she wouldn’t give for Harrison to be a stone wall instead of a cold blooded murderer.
“I can talk to him if you like. Try to find out what’s wrong?”
“No.” Tracy said quickly. “I don’t want to put you in the middle. I know what to do.”
“Okay.” Julia was relieved. The last thing she relished was getting involved in a lovers’ quarrel. Deep down in her gut, she suspected that the whole thing might be a figment of Tracy’s imagination. It certainly wouldn’t be the first time.
“If you change your mind, let me know okay? I’ll be happy to have a word with him.”
“Thanks dear.” Tracy said and asked, “What are you doing in Miami anyway? Is Harrison with you?” Julia’s fiancee Harrison was old money, as far as the Nigerian political landscape was concerned. Harrison’s father had been a Senator in the second republic, and one of the most influential men in the ruling party. Whenever Tracy read about Harrison in the newspapers, it always filled her with a sense of pride knowing that Julia was about to marry an accomplished man from a very prestigious family. It was one thing to have money in Nigeria, quite another to have power. Nicholas has money, but Harrison posessed power.
“No, I’m in Miami alone. I did not travel with Harrison.” Julia decided not to elaborate and changed the subject. “I spent some time with mom last month. She complained that she hasn’t seen you in ages.”
Tracy shrugged and rolled over to the side of the bed. Her relationship with their mother had always been a rocky one. Julia, the little conformist, was the only one of the siblings who got on well with every member of the family. “I’ll call her later. The last time I went home, she kept judging my relationship with Nick. I didn’t have the heart to tell her you were co-habiting with Harrison, that would just break her heart.” She laughed mirthlessly, knowing Saint Julia was their mother’s pride and joy. Tracy got a kick out of being the consistently disappointing one.
“She knows now.” Julia said simply. “I got to run love. Modern Family is showing on TV and I don’t want to miss a thing.”
Tracy severed the connection. So Nick was in America? What should she do? I’ve still got a couple of years on my visa, she thought. I could join him.
Nooooooo! Nicholas would have screamed, had he known at that moment what his girlfriend was thinking. However, he was engrossed in a conversation with one of his assistants.
“I thought that deal was sealed. Didn’t he sign a contract?”
“Not yet.” Responded the voice at the other end of the receiver. “His lawyer was supposed to submit the signed papers today. Apparently, the Lolade bid came out of nowhere. But it’s worth twice the deal we offered, so it’s not surprising Bilal and his lawyer were unable to resist.”
“Damn.” Nicholas swore. “Let it go. There’s no way I’m offering a penny more than I have already. The deal we offered was more than fair, I only hope he hasn’t made a big mistake.”
Harrison Lolade was a corporate shark who had little use for previous owners when an acquisition was finalized. Nicholas knew the man only by reputation. Though, now that he thought of it, he was sure there was something else he ought to know about the man that he couldn’t quite recall.
A vague memory. Something Tracy had mentioned before?
“Inform Bilal’s lawyer the offer stands. And tell him it’s our last offer. He can either take it or leave it. I wont allow a shake down. Not from a bloody teenager.”
Nicholas cut the call, unappreciative of the unnecessary reminder. In the space of a telephone conversation, his mood had altered. He’d been about to ring up Julia and invite her out for a drive. Now he was no longer in the mood to do anything, other than curse out the chairman of The Lolade Group.
He grabbed a pair of swimming trunks from the closet and slapped it on. He needed a few laps to clear the fog in his mind.
On another continent, Harrison scowled at the two Secret Service agents standing in his living room. Who did they think he was? Someone to be hauled away in handcuffs? To suffer public humiliation?
His eyes flashed, balls bulging out of their sockets as he struggled to contain his anger. Julia was responsible for this. That damn woman!
“I’ll speak to your Director. He’s a very good friend of mine.”
“Be our guest sir, he’s fully aware of this procedure. He knows we’re here.” The taller of the men, the one who had introduced himself as Adebayo, said unperturbed. The Lolade name was an influential one; as such, securing the Director’s support was a key step they’d taken earlier.
“We are only here to ask a few questions, it shouldn’t take more than a few minutes of your time.” the other man chipped in. Harrison couldn’t recall what the man called himself.
“Alright then, have your seat.” He said gruffly. “I’ve already called my lawyer, so we might as well wait for him to get here.”
The Secret Service agents complied, choosing adjacent seats on the leather couch. Harrison waved a hand and a servant appeared with a tray, bearing a bottle of Dom Perignon and three champagne glasses.
“I was about to have a drink to celebrate a new acquisition, please join me.”
The officers declined.
To be continued.
Copyright 2013 by Idowu Oluwatoyin. All rights reserved.
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