At her desk Valerie was on the phone talking with a potential client who was finding it difficult making up her mind about the kind of service she wanted. She laughed because she just remembered a scene from the movie she once watched #Drag_Me_To_Hell.
She felt drained. She’d been reassuring the I’m-not-sure-this-is-a-good-idea Mrs Amikai for the better part of thirty minutes.
“Mrs Amikai, the Buffet Service is absolutely what you need for your son’s wedding reception.” She said again. “It is perfect for you. Not only would the food and drinks and all eatables needed be provided by Chop N’ Munch.”
She paused to soften the sharpness of her tone. “From setting up to breakdown and serving your guests, clearing and cleaning up – the whole nine yards would be taken care of by us.”
Of course Mrs Amikai remained a little doubtful. She needed to make a good impression on her top class society friends and she wasn’t so certain that her future daughter-in-law’s family wouldn’t interfere with her arrangement and cause her a huge embarrassment.
Valerie shook her head at a sympathetic Kike, made the shape of a gun with her free hand and pointed it to the phone.
“I’m sure everything will go well on that day, ma’am.” She ran her hand wearily through her chocolate brown weaves.
“And I assure you, we can handle any interference from anybody.” She felt a little sorry for the unknown daughter-in-law, she was in for a marriage of constant criticism from a difficult-to-please mother-in-law.
Another five minutes was spent reassuring and soothing before Valerie finally dropped her phone and her head with sheer relief on her desk.
“That bad, huh?” Kike asked sympathetic.
“Worse than bad – terrifying.”
Kike made a sympathetic sound. “I guess it’s that time to deal with nosey-annoying clients. Chief Mrs Eze-Amakobia wants a detailed list of all we are intending to do at her daughter’s engagement party.” She viciously punched the keyboard of her laptop. “I tell you, she just wants to make sure all the money she paid is spent on entertaining her family and friends, the meddlesome miser.”
“Stingy woman.” Valerie stated looking disgusted. “What does she think, that we are going to hoard her money and provide poor services for her event?” She made a hissing sound. “And Mrs Amikai here is worried that her not-so-cultured daughter-in-law’s family might interfere with our services and embarrass her in front of her crème-de la-crème friends.”
“Really? And what would they do? Fight and grab for food?” Kike’s voice was cynical.
“You just nailed her fear.”
Kike shook her head. “God, the poor girl marrying rich boy syndrome again. Naija na wa.”
“I don’t think it’s a Naija syndrome only, it’s a global problem.” Valerie responded with a pensive look.
The door cracked open and Mama Bee sauntered in.
“And why are you two looking so… glum?” She asked looking from one to the other.
Gloomy looks instantly vanished as Valerie and Kike both exclaimed. “Wow!”
Mama Bee was looking glamorous in slate-blue ruffle-collar jacket and straight knee-length skirt.
“Damn, my Mama is looking hawt.” Kike drawled.
Mama Bee laughed with pleasure and gave a twirl, both girls screeched with excitement. “I got it on my way home yesterday.” She said. “But decided not to show it to you.” She winked at Kike. “I wanted both of you to see me in it at the same time.
“And you look totally dazzling.” Valerie said admiration gracing her voice.
“Totally.” Kike seconded.
“Good. Because I have a meeting with the Mrs Abigail Ike-Williams, CEO, Paramount Savings and Loans this afternoon over her daughter’s upcoming wedding. And I do want to be prepared.” Mama Bee informed them lightly tugging at the ruffle-collar.
Valerie rose from her seat and walked to the petite, beautiful woman, she dusted off an imaginary dust. “I think the CEO, Chop N’ Munch is ready to meet with the CEO, Paramount Savings and Loans.”
Kike grinned. “You bet. You are more than ready Mama Bee. Mrs Ike-Williams won’t know what hit her.”
Mama Bee glowed with pleasure.Glad that she had come in to see the girls before heading to Mrs Ike-Williams office.
They’d just boosted her confidence.
“Thanks, girls. I’ll be off then.” She turned to the door, then stopped as she recalled their earlier glumness. “So what was with the glum looks earlier?”
“Nosey-overbearing clients.” Kike responded grimacing.
“Ah, the other kind.” Mama Bee shook her head. “That shouldn’t make you miserable, you know we meet those types every now and then.”
“Yeah, just that we are meeting them this month, more now than then.” Valerie sighed.
Mama Bee pursed her red painted lips. “It must be the weather then… with the rains beginning everyone is becoming a little too touchy.” She winked as she saw the girls grin and pulled open the door. “Step out for lunch girls, it will surely cheer you up.”
The door clicked shut after her.
“So how about it?” Valerie asked. “Want to go out for lunch… see what other restaurants have up their sleeves?”
Kike shook her head. “No thanks. I’ll just have some snacks sent down for me.”
Valerie gave her a considering look. “Not still thinking about Marc, are you?”
“Christ, no. It’s been over and done with.” She waved away Valerie’s worried look. “Girl, I have moved on. I just want to finish up with the detailed list and have it forwarded that’s all.”
“Okay. I will order some snacks for us then.” Valerie decided, shaking her head to stop Kike’s protest. “I’m not going out alone. What will you be having?”
Kike’s response was interrupted by the shrill ringing tone.
Valerie moaned in dismay as she stared at her phone.
Kike threw her a sympathetic look. “Sorry.”
She reluctantly picked up the ringing phone. The dismay instantly vanished, replaced by an involuntary glow of pleasure.
“Ha, it’s gorgeous I’m Nathan I see.” Kike teased.
She waved her off with a quick laugh. Clicking the answer button, she said in a warm breezy voice. “Hello Nathan, how is Abuja this Tuesday afternoon?”
Nathan’s deep chuckle seemed to caress not just her ears but also her entire body. “Oh sunny for sure. And how is energetic Lagos this Tuesday afternoon?”
Valerie grinned. “Still bubbling with life and energy. How was the ICC concert last night?”
“Completely amazing. The crowd was… totally unbelievable.” His deep rumbling laugh flowed down the line into her tantalized ears. “So what did you have for lunch?” Nathan asked changing the subject.
“Lunch? Nothing … yet.” She stifled a laugh at Kike’s outrageous wink.
“And what do you plan on having … later?” Nathan tapped the steering with his left hand.
“What will I be having?” She repeated, toying with her pen. “Hmm …”
Nathan literally sighed with pleasure at the hmm sound. It was like having ice-cream drip down his back.
“I don’t know … maybe some snacks. Why are you asking?”
“Snacks. Great. So how about stepping out of your office for at least an hour to share any snack of your choice with me somewhere not so far away?”
She dropped the pen. “Step out… share a snack with you? Like physically?”
He laughed. “Unless you prefer over the phone.” He teased.
“Nathan… are you back in Lagos?”
“Unless there’s a Chop N’ Munch parking lot in Abuja, I do believe I’m in Lagos. So how about that snack sharing?”
She glowed. “Snacks sharing sounds like a great idea.” Forgetting she was supposed to share with Kike.
“Okay. See ya.”
“Ah Nathan, if I come out to the parking lot and you are not there, I will literally kill you when next I see you.” Valerie warned before hanging up.
She was grinning from ear to ear as her eyes met Kike’s.
“Let me guess gorgeous Nathan is back and you just got invited for a lunch date.” Kike said walking to the printer to pick a print out.
She was about to give a cheerful reply when she remembered. “Oh crap, let me call him back and explain that I can’t go out after all.”
Kike raised her brows. “And why would you do that?”
“Or better still, you can come with us.” She decided. “I’m sure Nathan wouldn’t mind.”
“And again, why would I want to be a third wheel?”
“You don’t need to be alone at this …”
“Val darling, don’t make me hit you.” Kike warned moving towards her. “I’m okay. I’ve put Marc behind me and I need you to get out of here and go make that hot-looking-male happy.” She stopped in front of her desk.
“You don’t mind?”
“Go.” She pointed to the door with the paper in her hand.
“Okay.” Valerie rose to her feet, grabbed her purse and phone. “I’ll be sure to bring something delicious back for you.” She promised.
“Just bring me delicious gist.” Kike smiled pushing her to the door.
Valerie blew her a kiss before stepping out.
Shaking her head, Kike sauntered back to her seat, gave a deep sigh and bent down to continue her work.
He’d been watching out for her. Wanting to see her walk towards him in that graceful way only a long-legged confident lady could pull off.
So when she’d stepped through the oak door, he hadn’t expected his breath to get caught in his throat. He’d been waiting and watching and so hadn’t been expecting the deep-seated thrill of pure pleasure that gushed through him at the sight of her breath-taking and alluring image gliding gracefully toward him.
The cotton dark grey slacks did nothing to hide the effect of long sexy legs and the long-sleeved turtle-neck peach silk shirt tucked in neatly in the slacks only seemed to accentuate her gorgeous curves.
A quiet smile was playing around her maple pink lips.
Valerie was staring boldly into his eyes as she walked towards where he was parked.
“Did your mother not teach you that staring at a lady is bad manners?” She asked in her cool clear voice when she reached his side.
“She did. It just failed to sink in.” Nathan responded still staring unblinking at her. “You look absolutely alluring in those grey slacks and peach silk shirt.”
She laughed. A rush of pleasure coursing through her. “Thank you. You are not looking so bad yourself. Nice blue shirt, Tommy Hilfiger?”
“Right first time.” He grinned. “One thing my mother taught me that did sink in though is how to treat a woman like a lady.” He turned to open the car door for her.
As she slid in, her light perfume tickled his senses. “And Elizabeth Arden smells good on you.” He winked as he shut the car door.
Valerie smiled. Oh yes, this was a man who knew about fashion and definitely knew how to make a woman feel like a real lady.
“So where are we heading?” She asked as they drove out of the Chop N’ Munch premises. “I only ask cos you’ve got just an hour, I have to get back to work.”
“To share a snack of course.” He responded mysteriously.
“Ha, I remember now.” She nodded. “In some place not so far away.”
He grinned. “Good memory. Met the elegant Ms Beelolari Olaitan earlier. A most beautiful and slightly intimidating petite lady.” He told her.
Valerie smiled. “You did?”
“Uh hmm.” He nodded. “She made me remember when I was a teenager and Duncan and I would hide behind fences waiting for the girl of our fancy. Whenever we got caught by a parent, we would start stuttering and looking for a million excuses while we were there in the first place.”
She laughed. “I don’t believe Mama Bee made you stutter. You are not a teenager anymore and you were not hiding behind the fence.”
“Well I damn near did.” He steered the car towards Ikeja GRA. “And it felt like I was hiding in the parking lot.”
He turned to watch as those pink cupid’s bow lips widened in a grin. An involuntary desire to lean in and taste them made him return his eyes quickly to the road. “But she is a really beautiful woman. And the stale-blue suit was simply lovely and I don’t say that because it came from one of our stores but because it simply was elegant.”
She gasped. “She didn’t tell us that she got it from Elegance. Hmm, nice.” Then a faint frown creased her forehead as she noticed the route he was taking. “Are we going to share a snack at your home?”
“Good heavens no!” Nathan denied in a shocked voice. “I am not that kind of man. Can’t take you home until I’m sure you are just not after my virtue.”
Valerie threw back her head and laughed. Darn, why did he have to be so adorable? It was so easy to have fun with him.
“Well, rest your jittery heart, it’s just your money I’m after.” She assured him with a wide grin.
“Ha, that certainly makes me feel better.”
To be continued…