The weather has a dryness to it this monday morning, alerting people of incoming harmattan, which is part of the recipe for christmas in this part of the world.
I had no problem getting to work on time despite the traffic. I work in an advertising company and I’m probably the youngest at 23 in my office. That’s what happens when you leave school before you’re 21 and get a job almost immediately.
I’m settling in my office when my door opens, admitting my partner in crime at the office, Ashley. She’s scowling, obviously she’s not a fan of the weather or something happened on her way here. But then again, it’s monday, that’s enough reason to scowl.
“Hey! This weather sucks and I hate mondays.” She whines, dropping unceremoniously on the chair facing my desk.
I school my face to a smile so she’s not aware of how hard my heart galloped at that word ‘Hey’.
He’s not even here and I’m already feeling him.
“Are you okay? I’m the one whining and I’m not even frowning as hard as that.” She’s watching me closely and I bring myself back to the present. “You know how monday is…”
She’s appeased and goes back to whining. “I hope something interesting happens today, that account is giving me headache.”
I smile, “I have paracetamol.”
That makes her smile and she leaves my office telling me I’m not well in the head. That girl makes my office hours interesting.
After saying a little prayer, I begin my day’s work.
It’s lunch time and as always there’s commotion, almost as if everyone can’t wait to get out of the office. This time when my door opens, a senior colleague comes in. He’s holding a plate of food in his hand and is wearing a grin.
“Thanks for the food, Hanson.” He says, calling me by my surname.
I don’t know what to say or what’s happening but he doesn’t wait for a reply and shuts the door almost immediately as he’d entered.
I get up from my desk and move to my door just as it opens, this time two ladies bearing food comes in, their company logo on the cap they’re wearing.
“Good afternoon ma.” They greet me. I watch as they arrange the food on my desk.
“What’s going on?” I ask them, looking away from them to gaze outside my office. I’m surprised at what meets my eyes. There’s food everywhere, two other ladies are serving food and another is placing chilled drinks on a table for anyone to take. It’s like a banquet, a free for all.
What’s going on?
Few colleagues notice my open door and me standing at the entrance and they call out, hailing me, which brings everyone’s attention to me and they all begin to hail me, shouting thanks.
The office is beginning to look and sound like a park. I smile awkwardly and wave a little before closing my door.
The two women are just putting the final touches on the plating. “What’s going on?” I ask again and one of them hands me a card. A feeling of dread move through me, I can almost feel my spine tingling. Only one reason.
I don’t hear them leave or pay attention to their ‘Thank you(s) and goodbye ma’.
With shaky legs, I head to my chair and drop unceremoniously just as Ashley had done this morning.
What has he done this time!
I’m still holding the card when Ashley comes in holding a plate of food in one hand and a chicken lap in the other.
Come on in why don’t you.
Munching on the chicken, she places the plate on my desk next to the other plates of food on my desk.
“This is good chicken. Really good.” She’s shaking her head, eating with gusto.
“I know your parents are rich but girl, feeding the whole office? I like people like you. It’s even better that I’m your friend. Hey what are you holding?”
She points to the card with the chicken in her hand.
I’m still staring, not sure what to say. Finally I say the first thing that comes to my mind.
“Trouble?” She’s confused.
“I think I’m in trouble.” I elucidate.
“You didn’t pay for this meal?” She points to her plate, shock her new colour.
“No, not that. I didn’t pay for the meal or call the company that supplied it. But I think I know who did.” I add immediately to reassure her.
She’s looking at me, no more shock or funny smile.
“That’s where this card comes in.” It’s more of a statement than a question. I nod.
“Open it.” She says.
I shake my head.
“Open it.” She repeats, serious. “Okay, okay! Fine!” I open the card and true enough it’s him.
“From the look on your face, this seems private. Are you okay?” She asks, concerned.
“I’ll leave you to it, but you’ll tell me if anything happens?” She asks.
I nod, “Yes I will. Thanks.”
A smile touch her lips and she leaves my office, carrying her plate with her but not before stealing a piece of my chicken.
I laugh and shake my head.
Thank God for Ashley!
I look at the card one more time before opening it again to read what’s inside.
Lunch break. Don’t work too hard, I’ll be coming to pick you up for dinner after work today. Till then, stay well and think of me.
Ps: Make sure you eat the food. Don’t throw it away to piss me off. Jase.
I’m dreading the closing hour. Since I started working in the corporate world, 5pm has been my favourite hour of the day, but today I dread it. 5 means I not only stop work, it also means I have an unwanted dinner partner awaiting me.
Whether I’ll meet him here or at home, I don’t know.
As I head down with Ashley, we talk about the intriguing account she had today. Just talking to while away time, talking to ignore the heavy beat of my heart as we near the parking lot.
“Since I’ve been born, I haven’t see a dude as hot as that one…and that’s saying a lot.” Ashley adds, openly staring at some man.
I really don’t care, I just want to go home on time so if Jase is coming here, he won’t find me and I can always hide at home, if he comes there looking for me.
“I don’t know which is hotter. The man or his car…and he’s coming here!” She almost screechs and I want to escape her, my eardrums are suffering from the assault.
“Mira, oh my God! He’s heading over. Am I good or what?” She’s smirking at me.
There’s pride in her voice and unconciously I roll my eyes then turn to look at who’s gotten her attention.
Oh my God! And not in a good way. Maybe in a good way because he looks hot…and he’s not supposed to be here, atleast not early!
“I don’t think he’s coming for me as he hasn’t looked away from you.” She whispers as he draws near.
I sense a little hurt in her voice, but it’s Ashley, soon she’ll bounce back.
We stood rooted on that spot till he reached us.
I swear Ashley practically melts at his voice. His attire, his voice, his looks everything oozing of manliness.
I don’t know what to say, it’s times like these I wish my brain wouldn’t go dumb. Even Ashley is silent.
Please do something stupid, please do, so I can get my voice back.
He smirks and tucks my hair behind my ear.
“How was your day?”
It’s like I closed my eyes and opened it because he seems closer, making it feel like we’re the only two but I can feel Ashley watching us.
His hand is now on my neck, his fingers moving slowly. Oh God!
The fact that we are outside and have an audience doesn’t seem to stop our actions. I’m getting lost in his eyes when Ashley tugs my arm, pulling me back to her.
“Oh, um…this is Ashley, my friend and colleague and Ashley this is…” I sigh.
“This is Jase.” The man currently on my case, I add silently.
I look at her and I know she understands what hasn’t been said.
“Hello” She smiles, bringing out a hand. He smiles in return, shaking her outstretched hand before turning back to me.
“Are you ready?” He asks.
“For what?” I ask back.
“For our dinner date” He gives me a look that says he’s prepared for whatever excuse I might have.
“You have a dinner date and you didn’t tell me!” Ashley hits my arm. It’s painful, I move away from her, throwing her a dirty look. She glares in return, before turning back to smile sweetly at Jase.
“Don’t mind her, of course she didn’t forget and she’s going so she can give me the deets. I want to be blown away.” She demands from him, her eyes narrowing. I watch his brow lift before he smiled.
I’m going to sound cheesy but it felt like the sun, breaking out in the midst of darkness.
“I’ll try my best. Mi, let’s go!”
“Don’t call me that! Only family and close friends call me that!” I almost shout at him.
I’m beginning to feel my anger and I just realised it’s the only way I can stand my ground without tripping all over him.
I turn to Ashley, “What do you mean? I’m dropping you and no one is interrupting our plans!” I say, finishing the last part facing him so he’ll get my message.
“I brought a driver, Ashley. He’s going to drop off her car at home, he can drop you at your stop.”
Ashley is practically beaming. She releases my arm and push me in his direction.
“Take her, enjoy your date!”
“Who do you think you are, making all these plans without my go-ahead?!” I’m sure I’m sputtering, who wouldn’t? He just came and swooped in for the kill.
“Bye Ashley!” He says to her without turning back, still pulling me by the hand.
We get to his car and before I know it, I’m practically thrown against the car and he’s in my face.
“It would do you well to note that I don’t take instructions from or plot with civilians.” He’s all seriousness.
“Second, you are right, I’m not a part of your family or even a close friend, I’m going to become more than that. Maybe another pet name will be appropriate, what do you think?” He asks me, smiling.
I don’t know what to say, I’m staring at him, shock doesn’t even measure what I’m feeling right now.
He’s looking at my lips, he could kiss me right now and I’ll happily go with it.
His eyes darken, his lips draw closer. I’m almost shaking, it’s like I’m a drug addict and my choice of drug is right before me. Suddenly, I want him to kiss me, hell, I’ll kiss him if he continues to tease me. And I do, I reach for him.