Monday morning, I woke up early, ready to face the new week. I had not fully recovered from the assault on my senses all through the weekend.
True to his word, Daniel called me yesterday afternoon just as I got back from church. It was like he timed my entrance perfectly. I had barely dropped my bag when his call came in. We chatted for a few minutes about inconsequential things until he dumped another bomb on me.
“Ella, I had such a great time yesterday, and I would love a repeat.” He said. “In fact, I’ll like you to be mine exclusively.” He spoke quietly into the phone.
My head emptied of all thoughts. I was so not ready for that admission. Oh no, I should have told him about my past before it got this far. What do I do now?
“Say something, Ella.”
“Daniel, there’s a lot you still don’t know about me. Don’t you think we are moving too fast?”
“I believe we can talk about whatever it is.”
“I’m scared to do that. I think we should give ourselves some space, at least until I’m done with the job you hired me for.”
“Ella, one has nothing to do with the other.”
“I know. I’ll prefer it that way though.”
“Okay, Ella. I will do as you wish for now but I’m not going to allow you push me away.”
“I’m not trying to.”
“Oh yes, you are. What are you so scared of? Your feelings?”
“Nothing.” I mumbled into the phone. If only he knew.
“Okay then. I’ll see you at the office for the big reveal tomorrow.”
I could tell he was miffed but there was nothing I could do about that. It is better this way, isn’t it? That conversation played over and over in my head all day yesterday and I just woke up to it again. I wish it could be easier.
Today though, is the day I reveal Daniel’s new office to him. All the hard work, anxiety and dedication of the past two weeks is about to be revealed. Judgement day is here.
I took about twenty minutes to pray and commit the day into God’s hands, then I routinely dressed up, all the while wondering what will happen in the next hour. I chose a very simple and deceptively elegant look. I paired a sky blue silk top with pleated wine trousers, attached long, dangling earrings to my earlobes, wore a tiny gold chain under the top, and completed the look with wine suede three-inch heeled shoes. I want to look elegant, and very well put together today.
I stared critically at myself in the mirror and decided to do something else with my weave other than leaving it to cascade down my shoulders. I tied it up into a top-knot, then I put a wine elastic band on it. Satisfied with my look, I grabbed my every day satchel and car keys, and headed out the door. I want to take another critical look at the office before everyone gets there.
Thirty minutes later, I found a parking spot in the building’s parking space (pecks of coming early), parked my car, and strolled unhurriedly into the office complex.
Folu, the receptionist was already at her spot. “Good morning, Folu.” I called as I walked by.
“Good morning, Ella. Today is the D-day right?”
I stopped at the elevators and looked back at her. “Yes o. today na today.”
“Don’t worry, I’m sure he’ll love it.”
“Thanks, dear.” Folu and I became friendly after the debacle with my hair last week. “Wish me luck.” I said as I strolled into the elevator.
I got into the office with the extra key Daniel entrusted to me. I walked round the office eyeing the various furniture pieces and how they came together beautifully. This is a beautiful office, if I must say so myself. Seeing the pictures in my head come together like this gives me immense satisfaction.
I traced the beautiful oak table with my finger. I replaced his monstrous desk with it and it looks very good with the earth toned colors I incorporated into the design. The desk is quite lovely and very smooth to the touch.
I moved to the window to finger the vertical blinds installed. I shifted the blinds aside and peeked out the window. Wow, what a view! I thought.
“Wow, Ella! Is this what you’ve been hiding from me?” I whirled around at the sound of Daniel’s voice.
He was dressed in a white shirt and blue-grey tie with black trousers. His jacket was slung over his shoulder as he stood by the door, taking his office in. Standing there like that, he exuded power and authority. I found myself swallowing hard to dislodge the lump in my throat.
“Good morning, Daniel.” I walked towards the center of the room.
“Yes, it is a very good morning. I can’t believe this. I just can’t believe this.” He brushed the supple leather chairs with his palm, all the while swiveling his head round and round the room.
“This is beautiful work, Ella. I don’t even recognize this space as my office, it’s so changed!”
“Thank you. I told you it’s going to turn out great. What do you think of your table?” I smiled.
His eyes moved to the spot where the oak table stood. He eyed it speculatively and slowly moved to check it out properly. He rubbed it with his palm like I just did. “Oh, this is good wood. Really smooth to the touch.” He raised his eyes to mine and our eyes met for the first time that morning. “I love it, Ella. Now I see why you so much detested the former table.” He winked.
I laughed. “Thank God it finally penetrated.”
Udi, his secretary, came in then and stopped abruptly at the threshold. Her jaw dropped. “Wow!” She whispered reverently as she scanned the room. “Ella, this is beautiful.” She clapped her hands together for emphasis, and came in the rest of the way.
I watched her warily as she circled round and round, until she finally ended up before Daniel and I. She clasped my hands enthusiastically. “Well done, Ella!” she exclaimed.
“Thank you, Udi.” I replied happily. I was delighted to see their reactions, to know that my work could elicit such responses from people; it validates to me that I am in the right business.
“So, can I move into my office and begin to enjoy all these?” Daniel swept his hands to encompass the room.
“Of course. My work here is done.”
“Good. We must celebrate this.” Daniel announced.
“Oh, Daniel. There is no reason for celebration yet. At least allow me finish all the work I have to do in the building, and when you’re satisfied with everything, then we can celebrate.”
“I say when we celebrate or not, and I say we celebrate tonight. Udi, inform the staff that we’re going singing tonight.”
“Singing, sir?” Udi raised her brows.
“Yes, singing. We’re going to a karaoke bar.” He winked.
Udi looked from me to him and I could feel the wheels in her head turning. Oh, Daniel is going to put me in a tenuous position with this.
“Really, Daniel.” I protested.
“Udi, go ahead and send the memo, so the guys will be prepared.”
He turned to me as she left the room. “Ella, I’m going to find ways to spend time with you whether you like it or not. This is just one of many.”
I raised my brows. “I’ll simply not show.”
“You have to. You’re still in my employ.”
I narrowed my eyes at him. “You’re such a bully.”
He just laughed. “Be there, Ella.” He said and walked out.
I was so busy throughout the day, I didn’t even think of the ultimatum Daniel gave me about the party. The foyer was the next stop, and for this part, I had to get outside help. I needed those that can climb ladders to hang decorations, and I also needed extra hands to help with the many details.
The ‘wall of fame’ I suggested to Daniel during my pitch was the first thing up. I got a carpenter to build a beautiful wall hanging which we could decorate with pictures and artworks depicting the company’s efforts over the years. The victories and awards were put up, the many buildings that have passed through the company, and every other milestone they reached which was worthwhile.
By the time we were done with that, we moved on to the wall hangings. I got a beautiful chandelier to show off the beauty of the reception, and some lovely fabric I can drape on the wall. When the chandelier was up, the paintings and artworks hung, and the fabrics draped artfully, the final picture came out really beautiful.
Close of the day came sooner than I expected. Being hard at work, I didn’t know the time was so far spent. I packed up my stuff, paid my workers their daily wage, and prepared to go home for a well-deserved rest.
As I stepped out of the front entrance, I heard someone call my name. It was Udi, Daniel’s secretary.
“What’s up, Udi?”
“Daniel said I should send you up on my way out. Thank God I caught you before you left.”
“He said I should come up? What for?”
“I don’t know.” she shrugged. “I’m headed out to the karaoke bar. I’ll see you there, right?”
I looked at her bright eyes. It’s obvious she’s excited about the outing. “I don’t think so. I’m so tired, I just want to get home and crash.”
“Okay. You’ve been working very hard all day. Lovely job at the reception.”
“Thanks. Let me see what Daniel wants.”
“Okay. Catch you later.”
I went back into the building once more and traced my way back to the elevator. I pressed the number of his office floor, and got into the car. It moved up smoothly and I was in front of his office few seconds later. I knocked and entered.
He was seated on the settee, watching me as I came into the room. His eyes on me as I walked towards him.
“You sent for me?” he was too relaxed for my peace of mind.
“Yes, Ella. Please have a seat.”
I sat and looked at him, waiting for him to tell me why he needed to see me.