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The Beautiful Stranger-Episode 1

“Another shot…please…”

The barman stared at him critically. “Another shot? Look at you…you are virtually stoned.”

Jerry slid his identity card on the table. “By the new law, this ID permits me to be served alcohol up until any limit as I am old enough to decide these things…Another shot!” he growled with some anger in his tone.

The barman had no choice than to pour him another glass…besides, he was going to collect his money in full from Jerry. He stared at his most frequent but not favourite customer as Jerry had grown leaner than when he came to this town two years ago.

Jerry had come into town two years ago and had instantly made friends with Tunji’s bar. He walked into the bar in the rain with his bags in his hand on a night when the Champions League final was being played. He had cursed his former boss for sending him off on that exact day as he felt he would miss the opportunity of watching Arsenal lift the Champions League for the first time in their history. He thanked the heavens as he made it in time to see the ‘gooners’ lift the famous UCL trophy. It was a remarkable day for every fan of the team and he was no exception. Like every other man at the bar, he turned to Tunji’s corner and ordered a drink. That was the beginning of their union at the bar. Tunji had helped him settle down with a room nearby before he got himself a proper home to live in. Tunji had grown fond of his customer who always came into the bar in the dead of the night and drank away his sorrows. Jerry always left the bar with a smile as he staggered into the night.

Tunji stared at the clock which showed 2:00 and turned towards Jerry. “It’s late. Man, you have to go.”

Jerry looked up at the signage near the door and drooled. “24/7 bar. Always open.”

Tunji hated himself for naming his bar 24/7 as an alias…nonetheless, he couldn’t care. Jerry had overstayed his welcome now and he needed to leave. The other customers had taken their leave and he was running on generator supply. Fuel was a scarce commodity these days and prices of drinks won’t just go up overnight because a man had refused to go to his house. He dragged Jerry by the collar as he pulled him up to his feet. Jerry struggled with leery eyes to see what was going around him.

“You have to go now.” Tunji said.

Jerry gathered his wallet from the table and tucked it into his jacket. “Fine…Fine…I’ll be gone and you’ll never see me again.” He retorted as he struggled to rise to his feet. “I mean it this time.”

Tunji smiled to himself. “Remind me to remind you of these words that you never live by.”

Jerry nodded. “See you tomorrow.” He called as he pushed the door open and walked out into the chilly nights.

He reached for his inner pockets and tried to find the cigarette pack that he had collected from Emeka back at work. He was tired of seeing Emeka smoke like a chimney just as Emeka thought he drank like a fish and so he seized the pack from him. In Emeka’s defence, he had said to Jerry that, “Cigarettes keep you warm at night.” Jerry needed to test that theory now. He was freezing cold and was needing to hide himself from the night. The cigarette pack was nowhere to be found. He hated himself. It was not a weird feeling for him to dislike himself…he had never liked who he was. He slid into a drainage slab as he grew tired of walking. He would sleep there until morning came. This was the life he lived.

“CODE BLUE!!!” Jerry’s pager buzzed him back to life. He had not slept for ten minutes. He hated this life. He dragged himself up and started the journey back to the hospital.

***

Toni loved her life. There were no worries. She knew what was going to happen and when it was going to happen…at least, that bit she was glad she knew. She swayed from left to right as she washed in the shower.

Nora was just in the room listening to her sister sing in the shower and she shrugged. Toni loved to be happy. She needed to be happy. This was her life. She loved every passing minute of it. Nora didn’t understand what was so new about a new day that made Toni surge with a lot of expectancy. Nothing was new! Toni was odd…weird…queer!

“Nora…” Toni called from the shower.

Nora hurried to the door. “What do you want?”

“Nothing…” she replied with a laugh.

Nora took a deep breath and returned to her seat. “It’s not funny, Toni and you know it.”

“I know.” Toni replied from the shower.

Nora was the big sister and always played the role of the babysitter to Toni. She couldn’t give up on that role now. Their parents had left Nora with the task of taking care of Toni right from their childhood and she had never failed for once…Toni never made it easy to take care of her. She was stubborn, strong-willed and full of life. Nora, on the other hand, was reserved, easy-going and always careful…afraid of almost every and anything. Toni was a direct opposite. She was as bold as her heart would let her be. She took control of her situations and tried to be in charge of everything around her. She was doing fine with that. Toni always rubbed off some of her goodness on everyone and this lit up the lives of people that she met. One would be blessed to know Toni. Nora knew that.

“You can leave the shower now… I have to go to work.” Nora said as she fixed her wristwatch.

Toni shut the bathroom door as she walked into the room. “You don’t have to babysit me…you know?”

“Yes, you always say that. But, I am not convinced of that.” Nora replied as she wore her jacket.

Toni adjusted her sister’s blazers. “Drive safely, sis. It is still very early. I wonder why you can’t wait till day breaks”

“I wait till daybreak and my boss will have my head on a plate for breakfast.” Nora said with a smile.

Toni chuckled. “The human-head-eating-boss, right?”

“True story. I have made your breakfast, lunch and dinner…just in case I am late from work. I have instructed the maids to have them warmed for you as you like it and you will be served in due time.” Nora said as she grabbed her bag.

“What about the juice?” Toni asked.

Nora smiled. “All freshly made.”

“Thank you, Mommy.” Toni replied with a smirk

Nora smiled and drew her sister close for a peck on the cheek. “Now you take care, darling, and don’t forget to call me if you need anything. I’ll be here for you.”

Toni nodded cynically. “Even when I want to use the toilet?”

“You idiot!” Nora replied and smiled at her. “Take care.” She added and left the room.

Toni drew the curtains back as she watched her sister step into her car and drive off. She adjusted the curtains and lay back on the bed as she resumed her sleep that was cut short because Nora needed to ensure she took a bath.

Nora drove as fast as she could. There were lots of hurdles to cross when moving across the city, traffic was one of them and pretty important too. Also was the danger of bumping into thugs who needed to make a few bucks off unsuspecting motorists. She had once been trapped by them and had to part away with some of her possessions. One would wonder what a lady was doing driving around town by two in the morning, but for Toni, there was almost nothing that Nora would not do. It wasn’t two AM today but she still needed to hurry up and make it to the office in good time.

She pressed her horn violently as she spotted a traffic forming ahead from two motorists who must have crashed into themselves. She wouldn’t be stopped by them. As she drove past, she realised it was only a scratch on the car of the man with the jeep but he had started screaming as though his car took a huge dent. She hissed at this and drove on.

“Hey, Nora! Good morning.”

She smiled back at her colleagues as she settled in her cubicle.

“Hey, Nora…”

The tone was different. It was James. She turned her swivel chair in his direction with a smile. “Morning.”

“How are you doing?”

Nora shrugged. “Apart from the fact that I don’t like morning shifts. I am fine.”

“I hate night shifts.” James cooed with a smile. “Keep me away from you.” He added with a smile.

Nora turned her face away as she blushed faintly. She had a huge thing for James but he had no idea…or maybe he did? But he did flirt with her carelessly. (Flirt with words) She cherished every lazy word he said as it made her feel they might be true someday. Nora had a large heart. That heart was occupied by only two persons-Toni and James.

“So…” Nora started as she raised her head turning in James’ direction. She paused as what she saw was his blazer hanging off his back as he walked away. His shift was over. She took a deep breath as she turned on her computer.

Nora pushed her seat back for some relief from the last set of calls she had. Work as a customer care representative for a telecommunications outfit could be really frustrating, especially when you have to deal with piles of ‘I can’t browse’…some of the callers made her day less tedious when they didn’t shout but once they did…she got unnerved. This was her break time and she was going to escape to the kitchen for a quick snack.

“Nora!” A colleague called as she zipped her bag. “Where you dey na? I don dey find you since morning.” Ehis rolled in pidgin.

Nora leaned against the sink. “I am sorry. Been busy. So many calls to take.”

Me sef I get problem with my internet bundle.”

Nora eyeballed her. “Are you a complainant?”

Ehn nau…she I no dey use the network?” Ehis retorted as she unzipped the bag. “I have bought those hair extensions again oooo…These ones are Brazilian made. Correct type!”

“Where are the wigs? Nora asked as she started to look through the hair extensions. “I think I like this one…” she said as she lifted one of the products.

No o! Look at this one!” Ehis said as she handed her another product. “Na Rhi Rhi style.”

“Rhi Rhi???”

Ehis smiled. “Rihanna.”

Nora took a deep breath. “Okay…I should take this one too.”

Ehis smiled delightfully as she packed the hair extensions. Nora was her best customer in the office. “I hope you like the one wey I give you last month?” she asked, continuing the conversation.

Nora poured herself some water. “Yeah.”

Ehen! Coz I never see am for your head, I just dey wonder say maybe you no like am.”

Nora smiled. “I love it. Trust me.”

“Correct babe.” Ehis said as she gathered her bag. “I wan reach downstairs and see if I fit to sell before my break go end.”

Nora watched Ehis leave the room and then she started to fix herself a sandwich.

***

Jerry ran some water across his forehead. “You can do this.” He said. He tapped his forehead. “Be motivated. Be you.” He added with a snide look and then poured more water on his face. His vision was still blurred. “Damn!” he said as he took a deep breath. He heard voices in a distance and immediately dashed behind the door. The door opened and Emeka walked in. Jerry sighed.

“Guy! What…what are you doing there?” Emeka asked in a fright

Jerry hissed and helped himself to a sink.

“The Director has been looking for you. Didn’t your pager beep?”

Jerry ignored.

“Or you ran out of batteries again like the last time?”

“I am having a terrible headache. Can you not shout?” Jerry asked as he turned on the tap.

Emeka smiled. “You are drunk…again.”

“I am not drunk.”

Emeka shook his head. “I am still in control when I smoke. You had better hide before the Director sees you.”

“Will you cover for me?”

Emeka nodded. “Sure. Go home before anyone sees you like this and makes another report. I hope you do remember that you are walking on a thin rope here.”

Jerry nodded. “Thanks man.”

“But you will have my night shift.” Emeka added quickly. “I have a date.”

Jerry smiled. “Good.”

“Get a woman in your life, you will feel better.” Emeka added as he opened the door. He poked his head out slightly to view the corridor. “It’s empty. Hurry. Go through the fire exit.”

Jerry hurried out of the room immediately.

***

“There are no songs.” Toni said as she turned off the stereo as she prepared to sleep again. She had her breakfast and took the first nap. Lunch was over now and another nap was due to follow. She was not sleepy and so she decided to occupy herself till sleep came.

She pulled a novel from underneath the pillow and started to read. No sooner had she started than her phone rang. It could only be one person…Nora. She didn’t understand why her family still cared for her like when she was five. She was twenty-four.

“Hey, sis.”

Toni relaxed in the bed. “I have had breakfast and lunch. Not time for dinner yet.”

“I am glad you are eating well.”

Toni smiled. “You should take good care of yourself some more.”

There was silence at the other end of the line.

“How is James?” Toni asked with an eyebrow raised.

Nora smiled faintly. “He is fine. I saw him this morning before he left.”

“That’s great. So…when are you coming home?”

“I…err…erm…I am waiting for James to return for the night shift. I usually get five minutes with him before he starts work. He doesn’t come so early.”

“Man…your life is messed up.”

Nora smiled. “I know.”

“I don’t know why you can’t man up and allow a discussion happen between you and this dude. You like him.”

Nora looked around. “I don’t know what he feels for me. He is too lazy with words. It hurts.”

“Yeah…I guess.” Toni replied.

Nora adjusted her jacket. “My tea break is over. I have to return to my station. I’ll call you when I am about leaving the office.”

“Okay.”

Nora hung up and leaned against the door.

*

Toni strolled out into the streets for her evening walk. She stopped by a side bench and allowed her thoughts to travel. It was a lonely journey for her. No one ever really understood how she felt inside. They thought she was as happy as she did portray. She was really afraid…there was a lot beneath the beautiful.

The clouds soon started to change. She looked up to the heavens and it was all coming down. She was far from home so she hurried to the nearby pub. She pulled off her jacket and allowed the water trickle from it as she closed the door of the pub. She walked over to the barman and took a seat. “Water.”

Tunji stared at her. “Water?”

She nodded. “Yeah…you have water here, don’t you?”

He nodded and turned away to get her some water.

“Damn it!” Jerry said as he took his seat beside Toni. “Tunji, pour me a whisky.”

Tunji turned at him with a smile. “You are here…again?”

“Of course.” Jerry replied.

Tunji dropped the water before Toni. “Here you go…ma’am.”

Jerry stared at her and cooed. “Why the deceit? You want a beer…you know you want it.”

Toni smiled faintly and focused on drinking her water.

“You shouldn’t ignore a gentleman at the bar, you know.” Jerry said.

She smiled as she drank on.

“Let the lady be…Jerry.” Tunji said as he set Jerry’s drink before him.

Jerry shot at Tunji coldly and then stared at Toni with a smile. “Want to go home with me? I…I have never really done this, but I don’t think I will have to pay too much. Would I?”

“Jerry…right?” Toni asked as she flipped her head in an instant.

Jerry nodded with a smile. “That’s the name, baby.”

Tunji started to chuckle.

“Get a life!” Toni replied with a smile. “While you are at it, you might want to drink more water.” She said as she passed her bottle to him.

Jerry smiled. “My name is Jerry.”

“Poor way to start a conversation.” She replied. “You came off wrong.”

“I am always wrong…I don’t know how to be right.” He replied.

She smiled as she folded her arms. “That’s an interesting deduction about yourself.”

“Man know thyself and be true to who you are.” Jerry replied with a grin. “Who said that?”

Toni shrugged. “You tell me.”

“My name is Jerry.”

“You have said that earlier.” She replied as she picked up her jacket.

Jerry smiled. “Don’t I get a name?”

“Not with a bad start. Some other day.” Toni replied as she slid some money on the table.

Jerry watched her as she approached the door. “Tomorrow never comes!” he shouted.

Toni turned back with a smile. “I’ll take my chances.”

“See you around.” Jerry said as he returned to the table.

Tunji stared at him curiously. “Who was that guy?”

“What guy? Are you so blind that you didn’t notice her gender?”

Tunji shrugged. “Never seen you act like that in all your entirety.”

“Never seen me do that too.” He replied as he took his seat.

Tunji smiled. “Good sign. What happened at work today?”

“Oh…nothing!” Jerry replied in an instant. “More.” He ordered as he dropped the glass

on the table.

***

“Hi, James.” Nora said as she clutched her handbag to her arm.

James stared at her with a smile. “Nora. Your shift was over thirty minutes ago… Why are you still here?”

She shrugged. “I like to take a few minutes to relax before I head out.”

“Interesting how those few minutes always coincide with my arrival here.”

Nora smiled. “You flatter yourself, James.”

“What can a man do?” he replied with a smile as he took a seat.

Nora took a few steps forward to leave. “I’ll see you tomorrow.”

“You…you want to go out with me sometime? Tomorrow night?” James asked as he turned in her direction. “It is my off day…was thinking you might want to hang out. You know…make this stalking a little more official.”

Nora smiled. “Stalking?”

“I am making a conversation.”

She shrugged. “Tomorrow night is fine.” She replied and turned away from him. Tomorrow night was not fine…but how could she say ‘No’ when she might never get another chance.

Nora battled with herself on why she was too quick to give an answer. She should have thought it over and well too…she drove home with lots of worries and thoughts in her head and mind.

Toni jumped out on her sister’s arrival. “Hey!”

“You should be in your room, you know?”

Toni rolled her eyes. “Why so serious? What’s up?”

“James asked me out.”

Toni smiled widely. “Wow! That’s so cool. You should be excited.”

“It’s tomorrow night.” She replied.

Toni rubbed her forehead. “Oh…that’s…that’s cool.”

“You? Home alone?”

“Are you home with me in the day?” Toni retorted as she grabbed the bag in the car. “You got me something?”

“Of course. The usual.”

Toni smiled. “I am thinking of the Amber style.”

“Amber?” Nora asked.

“She rocks it well…you know?”

Nora smiled as her sister walked into the house with a smile and with no worries as usual…she wondered how everything went wrong for them. It wasn’t meant to be this way…it never was. They all used to be happy.

***

“I gave a Code Blue! I needed all hands on deck! Where-were-you???”

Jerry stuttered as he stared in Emeka’s direction. “Sir…Sir, I was unavoidably absent.”

“Could it be because of your regular habits?”

Jerry shook his head in disagreement.

“You will have an alcohol test now, God help you if you fail it. I will ensure that your license to practise is taken away from you for as long as possible.” The Director shouted as he walked away angrily.

Jerry turned in Emeka’s direction. “What happened?”

“You have lost your second patient in a day.”

 

The story was written by Tomi Adesina.All rights reserved

Mystery Cookies Episode 1 – Where did the cookies come from?

Catherine heaved a sigh of relief when she pulled up in the car park. After being stuck in that hell of a traffic, she was glad she had finally made it to work. She hated Monday mornings and all the stress that it came with. She looked at the time. 8.42 am. She sighed again knowing how terribly late she was for the meeting and she was sure to get a scolding from her boss. Comfort Aning! That overbearing woman. She rolled her eyes and psyched her mind for the long day ahead. Grabbing her heels and slipping them on, she pulled out the key from the ignition and reached for her bag. She locked the car and started walking briskly towards the storey building that housed the firm in which she worked. 

“Good morning, ma” the security man greeted and smiled when she bypassed him.

“Good morning, Owusu” she smiled back and quickly rushed to the elevator, leaving him quite expectant. 

Under normal circumstances, she would have paused to exchange pleasantries with him before sending him to buy her “hausa koko” but not today. The koko can wait. She had Comfort Aning to face. Owusu scratched his head and went away quite disappointed because it seemed he wasn’t going to get a tip that morning. Catherine always tipped him anytime he ran an errand for her and he always looked forward to that.

A young man bumped into her as she made her way into the elevator. She turned to look at him, expecting an apology but he kept walking on without looking back. It felt as if he was escaping from someone.

“Such bad manners” she hissed and shook her head.

“Which man uses flowery perfumes though” she wondered as she sniffed into the air.

She got to the fifth floor and made her way to her department, the Accounts Department, and made the sign of the cross before opening the door. The meeting was underway. Several pairs of eyes cast glances at her as she made her way to an empty seat. Her heels didn’t help her situation either, as they clicked on the polished tile floor. She sat down, heart thumping loudly. Comfort Aning was chairing the meeting and she sent glares her way,suggesting that she had a bone to pick with her. After about fifteen minutes, the meeting ended.

“Thanks for your time and let’s help to make the Accounts department a more functional one” Comfort Aning concluded and everyone dispersed.

“Catherine, see me in my office, right now” she said in her shrill voice and walked into her office.

Catherine nodded and headed for her desk to drop her bag. Lariba, her closest colleague in the office cast a sympathetic glance her way. Catherine smiled at her, wiped the sweat of her face and headed for Comfort Aning’s office.

“Come in” Comfort Aning’s voice rang out when Catherine knocked.

Catherine walked in slowly and stood before her, mentally prepared for her rants.

“Catherine Boa-Amponsem, I believe the memo I had pasted on the notice board last Friday was explicit enough. The meeting was supposed to start at 8 and you walked in about forty five minutes later. I…..” Comfort Aning said sternly when Catherine cut in.

“Madam, I’m very sorry. It’s not my fault. I really wa….” Catherine tried to say when Comfort Aning cut in, the pitch of her shrill voice rising.

“Don’t cut in when I’m talking. I understand that this company belongs to your dad but this attitude of yours will take you nowhere. You might take over the management of this company in future and so you have to try as much as possible to discipline yourself. I’ve said enough. You may leave” she concluded and propped up her glasses on her nose.

Catherine slowly walked out of the office and made her way back to her desk where Lariba and Jacinta, another colleague, were waiting for her return. She looked at their faces and automatically, all three of them burst into laughter. They all thought it was going to be the usual long talk but she took

them all by surprise today. Her rant lasted for less than two minutes.

“You better lower your voices before you’re called back into the Supreme Court together with your accomplices” Kwame, another colleague said and grinned. 

He was talking to Catherine. The Supreme Court was the name given to Comfort Aning’s office since every problem or issue that came up in the office was discussed and solved there.

“And you better take that “koose” out of the office into the canteen before you’re also called into the Supreme Court ” Agyeiwaa, their chubby colleague said, pointing to the contents of the black poly bag on Kwame’s table.

Kwame chuckled and left the office with Agyeiwaa following him out. Agyeiwaa was the foodie of the office. Wherever food was available, you were sure to find her there.

“Let me guess, she mentioned something about your dad owning this company, right?” Lariba asked.

Catherine nodded.

“Of course, what else can she use against her?” Jacinta said.

“That woman is a pain in the neck but we just have to tolerate her. In less than a year, she’s gone” Catherine said and snapped her fingers.

Comfort Aning was going on a voluntary retirement in the next eight months and that seemed to be what everyone in the office was looking forward to. They all regarded her to be a tyrant. 

The office was quite noisy for a Monday morning. Everyone seemed to be rambling about what they were up to over the weekend and other unnecessary stuff. Comfort Aning suddenly opened her door which sent everyone scrambling to their seats. Just at that moment, Agyeiwaa and Kwame walked into the office, giggling. They quickly stifled their laughter when they saw her and hurriedly walked to their desks.Comfort Aning shook her head, adjusted her glasses on her face and walked out of the office.

They all heaved a sigh of relief when she left and went about their work.
Catherine chuckled and reached into her drawer for a pen to start her work for the day. Her hand touched something strange and she sat up, quite startled because she knew every item in her drawer and that item wasn’t there last Friday. She fumbled with the item till she got hold of it. She pulled it out and there was a paper box right in her hands. She placed it on her desk to examine its contents and opened it to find cookies. She smiled. Was today any special day? She checked the date just to be sure it wasn’t her birthday and lifted the cookies out of the box for a clue as to who sent it but there was none. She looked into the drawer but found nothing there. She then looked around to see if anyone was flashing a mischievous smile her way but everyone was busy with work. The expression on her face changed from awe to curiosity. 

“Where could this be from?” she asked herself and her imagination started running wild.

Hausa koko – Spicy millet porridge

Koose – Spicy bean cakes

By Amanda or MandieTalks or Cediwaa. She is a Ghanaian

All Fun And Games Guide

Challenge:Read all fifteen episodes

All Fun And Games is a fiction series which looks into the life of the young dashing and successful CEO, Aisha Bello as she tries hard to secure her inheritance from her father, Alhaji Bello. With help from her closest friend and confidant, Moira, Aisha plots a lie to deceive her dad into believing she’s found the love of her life, Craig, and releasing her inheritance and this starts out perfectly well…until it all becomes real. Love takes over…

©2014 by Tomi Adesina All rights reserved.

Episode 1

Episode 2

Episode 3

Episode 4

Episode 5

Episode 6

Episode 7

Episode 8

Episode 9

Episode 10

Episode 11

Episode 12

Episode 13

Episode 14

Episode 15

All Fun and Games – Episode 15 – The Finale

Read Previous Episode: All Fun and Games – Episode 14

“It’s been two months since I last heard the name Craig, in fact, the last thing I heard of him was ‘Craig loves you’ and those were the utterances of my father. When I heard those words, immeasurable joy filled my heart and for the first time I saw my father smile back at me, and with some pride in him. It was as though he had achieved a feat. Actually, he had. His daughter had fallen in love. He hugged me after that and said, ‘Good luck to you, Aisha. Go and find your love.’

A lot has changed since the last two months. I have stopped searching for Craig and apparently he didn’t love me as much as my father had said, but the love I felt then is exactly how I feel now, and probably much stronger. Nothing has changed for me. You see,

Love doesn’t make you a weakling. Love is not a sign that you are weak. It is a sign of strength, I know that now. I never used to think that it had any correlation with strength until I have seen its input in me. Moira claims that Craig might be back someday, but I don’t know when or even if he would ever be, but that is the hope that I have been clinging on to for the last two months. What else can a girl do? Hakeem? Oh well, he is a friend now. We are closer than we ever were and now more like business partners. You can’t force love.

I must confess that I had tried to care a little more about Hakeem when I didn’t hear anything from Craig after two weeks when my father had told me that he loved me, but, it just couldn’t happen. We went out on two dates and then I knew that was it, I was not trying any further. (Laughs) Now, this is not about the Kaftan or his horrid dress sense. Ever since he started “hanging-out” with me, he has learnt to dress to my taste. My taste.

Please note, I have nothing against the men who love to wear their traditional attires but it’s just my taste here. One important thing here is that I bought him more neck ties, so, this has imposed on him an improvement to my desire. Also, Hakeem took interest in my feelings for Craig and even offered to help me look for him, but when he knew that I was ready to let it go, he stopped the search for Craig.

Dad wasn’t also too happy to back down on searching for Craig, but then Father said he couldn’t beg a man to love his daughter a second time. (Pauses) Err…Okay, where were we? Yeah…Craig! Okay, no…it wasn’t Craig. My job! I still work with my Dad and even though I have been off the grid in the past months, I am still responsible for the money that comes into the conglomerate. (Wide Smile). Now Back to Craig.

You don’t choose who you love, right? How I fell in love with Craig is something I’d never understand and really there are no reasons that explain love, so right now or even after, I don’t think I want to understand. You might see me as a scorned woman who is holding on to a love that she might never have, but, I haven’t lost hope yet and I would encourage you never to give up on the one you love. Well, maybe eventually I might realise if we are meant to be or not, but for now, I won’t choose logic over love.

My heart rages like an inferno as I hope and pray that one day Craig and I can live by love like larks live by leeks. (Chuckles) Did I just say that? (Covers face) God, what am I turning into? This is so not me! (Pauses) But then it is me. (Smiles) I am just a woman in love.”

                        The door creaked open as Moira walked in. She stared at Aisha and hissed. “You are serious about this thing, right?”                        

Aisha stared at the camera. “That is the Moira. She is not so important in this tale.”

                        “I am the story itself!” Moira shouted as she joined Aisha by her table. Aisha saved her recording and turned off her laptop. “But I wanted to see it.”

                        Aisha nodded. “I know. That is typical of you, but, you won’t see anything until I decide that you should see it.”                        

Moira smiled. “What if I bribe you?”

                        “Money is never enough.” Aisha replied as she picked up her phone. “So, what do you have for me?”

                        Moira shrugged. “The usual. Except that Alhaji is directly involved in this one.”

                        Aisha hissed. “I have told him to stay away from my business. I will handle it.”                        

“He got us this contract. He says it is mega and that he wants a whopping fifty percent of the proceeds.”

                        “Fifty percent??? There is no way I am surrendering fifty percent of my bargaining power to him.” Aisha replied as she grabbed the car keys. “Who is the client?”

                        Moira handed a card to her. “Arab oil rich men.”

                        “Now I see.” Aisha replied as she flicked the card. “We would renegotiate with Dad…but that’s only after we have sealed this deal.”

                        Moira nodded, “That’s fine by me.”

                        “I should call Hakeem that we won’t be able to meet him for lunch-”

                        Moira cut in immediately. “-We won’t have to worry about Hakeem. He told me that he was with Alhaji when I called him earlier.” Aisha smiled with some relief. She didn’t want to have to explain abandoning lunch for business to Hakeem. Hakeem had good interest in business but not at the expense of meals, so it was good news to Aisha when Moira announced that Hakeem was with Alhaji.

            “Aisha, what do you think about sunglasses?” Moira asked as she dangled them before Aisha.

            “Why?” Aisha asked. Moira shrugged. “You know the press haven’t actually gotten off our backs regarding your wedding. We didn’t officially cancel it and quite some time has passed, I think we should do something about that soon.”

            “We will.” Aisha replied. “However, sunglasses can’t keep you safe from the press. They’ll take our pictures anyway.” Aisha replied as Moira handed her one of the sunglasses. Moira smiled. “At least, we are taking a form of precaution.”

            “It never helped anyone. Why do you think it will help us?” Aisha asked as she approached the door. “Come on.” Aisha said as she walked out with Moira following quickly.

++++****++++

A lot of things had changed for Craig. Exactly two months ago, he had stared hard at Aisha’s gate as he contemplated seeing her. In the end, he had chosen not to bare his feelings to her. He walked away and it was a decision that looking back now, he’d say he didn’t regret. He also hadn’t heard a word from Daniel, although Bolu did tell him that Daniel decided to leave town for to the East of the country. Vicky had started picking up her pieces from what he heard from Bolu.

Craig wasn’t too proud of himself that he could not reciprocate Vicky’s love, especially because of the uncertainty between himself and Aisha. He, however, took solace in the fact that he knew what he felt for Aisha and he was happy that he cared about her, even if he had to do it from a distance. For two months, Craig purchased every business magazine in the country to see if there was anything about Aisha in them but it seemed as though she had gone low key. Her father’s company was still being mentioned, but now Alhaji’s name was everywhere. It wasn’t Aisha’s.

The past two months had gifted him with the opportunity of planning his return to Aisha, and now the moment seemed to be fast approaching. Craig pulled up his sleeve as he checked his wristwatch for the time. Craig relaxed in his seat as he allowed his thoughts stream. Bolu opened the door. “We have to go now.” He announced.

            “Is it time yet?” Craig asked. “You gave him your word, remember?” Bolu said. Craig smiled. “I am not going back on my word, but I just need to be ready.” “Craig, you have been getting ready for two months now. Look at you, you even have a job now.” Craig stared at his office. He had gotten a job in a software company and even though he was fresh in the institution, his value there had been immeasurable to the institute.

Bolu got himself a job too in the firm by Craig’s influence and together they had started building something better than the life that they once had. Craig had come to learn the dignity in labour through his new job. “What if she doesn’t want me?” Craig asked.

Bolu pulled Craig out. “She is on her way and that’s all that matters.”

++++****++++

“Has he picked up the call?” Aisha asked as she stared at Moira. Moira looked worried. “No, I can’t reach Alhaji.” She replied. Aisha was more worried. “These Arabian guys won’t keep to time, would they? I think we should go back.”

“No. Give me a minute. I would walk down to the park and try to call him again, perhaps the network there is much better. Stay here in case they show up.” Aisha nodded in agreement. “Seems like a good plan.” She replied as she took a seat. Moira hurried away immediately.

Craig kept his gaze on Aisha as she stared at her wristwatch. He had slipped in through the back door as soon as Moira gave him the go ahead. He counted one to seven in his heart as he prayed for a perfect moment. He then took the boldest strides of his life as he walked up to Aisha. “Hi.” He said. Aisha felt as though she had seen a ghost.

Her heart raced faster than ever at that moment. This was Craig standing right before her. Her Craig. She took a deep breath so as to allow her heart be still. Her eyes were soon wet as a smile danced round her face. The smile was as though her face was soon to crack. It was as though all her dreams and wishes had come true at once. But then Craig’s face wasn’t greeting her with a smile, she smiled again. This time she was more welcoming than the initial grin she had on. Craig took a deep breath in victory.

He didn’t have any more thing to do. He smiled back and took his seat. “Can I sit?” He said. Aisha knew Moira wasn’t coming back now, neither was any Arabian man.

She blessed Moira in heart. You know those friends that are always in the wings and in your face ready to help you? They are the real legends. It was about her and Craig now. “I never told you to take a seat.” She replied. He shrugged. “Your smile told me to do so, and contrary to the lady that the media paints, I think you smile beautifully.” Aisha smiled again. “Do you want an autograph? Big Fan?” He nodded. “Big Fan.”

“The only pen I have with me is to sign a contract with some Arab men.” Aisha replied as she bit her lip. “I can’t help you, young man.” Craig pulled out a paper. “Well, we could talk about the terms and conditions of your contract much later.”

“How can I be certain that anything is real about this moment?” Aisha asked. Craig took a deep breath. “All I have to offer you is my heart. But then, it is not my choice to offer you my heart, Aisha. You own it. I just…I…I just want a space in yours.”

“A space?” Aisha asked. Craig nodded. “Just a space.”

“I am sorry I can’t give you that space.” She replied as she blinked. “I don’t even own any part of my heart, so, you might as well create the space you want in it.” She added. Craig cleared his throat. “Since we have broken the ice…I guess we can introduce ourselves.”

“Shouldn’t we have done that earlier?” she asked with a smile. “But then you already know me from the papers, right?” He nodded and stared at Aisha. “Aisha, my name is Craig and I love you.” He said as he drew closer to her. She smiled as she stroked his beards. “I would have said that I love you too, but then, I guess you already knew that.” She replied. “But then, I love you, Craig.”

“Can we have that kiss now?” he asked as he planted his lips against hers. Craig took her hand as they walked out and walked down the road. There were no words left to be said. There were no questions left to be answered. There were no issues to address. There was nothing left but two people in love and living by love.

She didn’t care how far they were going. He didn’t mind if he ran out of words with her. She wasn’t bothered about the depth of their love because she sure couldn’t feel the boundaries. It was all love and more love for her. This was life in its best definition. Craig stopped abruptly and stared at Aisha. “Where are we going?” Aisha shrugged. “There is no leader or follower. It is a team walk. We would do this, Craig. I know we would.”

Craig nodded as he got down on one knee. “The world already thinks we are engaged, but then, I am proposing to you officially. I want and need you to be my lover, best friend, walking partner, sister, mother and wife. Would you marry me, Aisha Bello?” he asked as he lifted a ring before her.

This was his most priceless moment. He hoped in his heart that it could be theirs. Aisha let her most beautiful tears flow freely. She was certain that he was her world and that she was his world. “Yes.” She said as she nodded. “I’ll marry you.” Craig smiled as he slipped the ring into her finger. Aisha closed her eyes as she lifted her head to the heavens with a smile.  

                                                   
….but then, it’s all fun and games till we fall in love…                                                                                                            ***The end***

Story by Tomi Adesina .All rights reserved.

All Fun and Games – Episode 14

Read Previous Episode: All Fun and Games – Episode 13

Craig didn’t expect Alhaji to accept him with open arms when he walked in. Alhaji Ibrahim thumped his table. “Young man, you have no right to be here.”

            “I know that, Sir. But all I am requesting for is ten minutes.”

            “Ten minutes? I can’t even stand your sight for another minute.” Alhaji retorted, receiving the receiver.

            “Don’t call the security on me, Sir. At least, not yet. I just want to say all I have to say to you.” He replied. Alhaji punched two digits. “If I touch the next, I will have a host of men here. Give me one reason why I shouldn’t hit the button.”

            “Because you came to my office and I listened to you. I think you should please listen to me too.” Craig replied. Alhaji smiled as he replaced the receiver. “I have always known you as a man with guts. Nine minutes and fifty-nine seconds.” Craig took a deep breath as he stepped forward. “I know I have disappointed you and hurt Aisha and I am deeply sorry about it.”

            “That is all, right?”

            “No, Sir.” Craig said as he blinked. “When you came to me and told me to love your daughter forever, a lot of things changed for me. Even though I might not have worked towards it directly, I started to care about Aisha. It is not because you asked me, it is because I wanted to. Everything about me cared for her.”

            “Interesting, Craig. Interesting.” Alhaji replied as he rose to his feet. “Tell me, why exactly are you here? You fooled me, possibly fooled Aisha to an extent too. The game is over, there is nothing left for you here.”

            “I am afraid there is.” Alhaji leaned against his table as he faced Craig deeply. “What did you leave behind?”

            “Aisha. It’s more like ‘who did I leave behind?’ ” Craig replied.

++++****++++

Moira watched as Aisha ate her meal silently. “Aisha, please eat up.”

            “I am trying the best I can.” Aisha replied as she drank some water. “Where are the guys on searching for Craig? Have they searched Europe yet? I think they should check there first” Moira dropped her fork. “Aisha, I think it is pointless.”

            “Why is it pointless? I just want to know where he is.” Moira took a deep breath. “Aisha, there is no need to torture yourself any more. Craig is gone and gone for good. Get over him.”

            “I can’t. Is it so hard for you to understand?” Moira nodded. “Yes, it is. See, Hakeem is returning to town soon. I think you can divert your attention towards him.”

            “Hello…is this Moira? Do you understand what you are saying to me? Divert to Hakeem?” Aisha asked as she hissed. Moira sighed. “It’s just that I don’t know what else to say to you. Just look at you, since Craig has been gone, you have not been the same.”

            “How am I supposed to be the same woman? A lot of things have changed for me, Moira. You of all people should know that.” Moira picked her glass and sipped. “Look, Aisha, I understand how much effect this game has had on you but I think it is time for us to move on from it.”

            “Us? Moira, it is just me. I am the one who had to date Craig! I am the one who thought a proposal was real. I am the one who was ready to build my life with a stranger. I was the one who fell in love…and lost. Please don’t talk to me about us!” Aisha said as she grabbed her purse and walked out. Moira finished her drink and hurried after her friend.

++++****++++

“Love? Craig…I am no fool” Alhaji started. “I know the opportunity to father the heir to a dynasty as huge as this is enticing, but I am not going to give you the privilege. No, Craig.” Craig wiped his brow. “Sir, I care about Aisha. I love her. She has changed a lot of things for me and yes, I agree there was an initial plan but it all changed for me and right now all I want is Aisha. I want to love her-”

            “-Don’t!” Alhaji yelled. “Don’t try to fool me again, young man. I was beaten once, not again.”

            “Sir, I assure you that I am not trying to fool you. All I want is to love your daughter.” Alhaji smiled. “Well, you are assuring me, right? Guess what, that is not very assuring. Look, Craig, I was willing to overlook the religious difference between us at the expense of being mocked by my friends. But how did you repay me? Act out a farce with Aisha?”

            “Sir, would you have still accepted me if I had told you that day that this was a game between Aisha and I?” Alhaji blinked as he took a seat. A silence followed between Craig and Alhaji Ibrahim. Craig knew he had asked Alhaji the right question and the Old man might need some time to allow all he had said sink in.

Craig needed his forgiveness before he would show his face before Aisha. He knew that irrespective of the outcome between himself and Alhaji, he would still look for Aisha. But maybe the moment wasn’t right. Alhaji knew that he would have stopped the game if Craig had told him that day. He also knew that he would not forgive and accept Craig. The young man was right, but yet, he was wrong. He had played him and disrespected him. That couldn’t be forgiven. Hakeem was returning to town and maybe he could get another shot with Aisha now.

            “Sir, I am asking for another chance. A genuine chance, I might not be perfect, but I love Aisha and I know that she loves me. That is all we need.” Alhaji took a deep breath. “Sometimes, love is never enough. I want you to leave my office now and never return. Do not show your face anywhere near me or my daughter again. It is your last warning.” Craig took a deep breath and fetched the credit cards from his pocket. “Could you please give these to Aisha for me?” he asked. Alhaji nodded. “Drop them. I can do that. It is my daughter’s money after all.” Craig placed the cards on the table. “Sir, now I am the man I used to be – broke, and simple, but with love for Aisha. I won’t let her go.” He said and approached the door.

            “Craig!” Alhaji called. Craig stopped as he held on to the knob.

            “You asked me if I would have accepted you if you had told me that it is was a game between you and Aisha then. No, I wouldn’t have…but, you would have earned my respect.” He concluded and took his seat.

++++****++++

            “So, what’s the plan, Aisha? Let’s say we want to look for Craig, where are we going to start from?” Moira said as she caught up with Aisha in the park. Aisha shrugged. “I don’t know but all I know is that I want to see Craig and even if it is for the last time, I need to know if he did feel anything for me. I need to know if I pushed him away by my actions or something. I…I don’t just want to let go, Moira.”

            “Aisha, this is serious, babe.” Moira said as she opened the car door. “What do we do?”             “Let’s find him. I just need to talk to him.” Moira shrugged. “I think we should see your Dad and tell him that we would be absent for a while. We’ll take that time to try finding him.”

            “What if he is gone for real? Moira, what if I would never see him again?” Aisha asked feeling pensive. Moira knew that was a possibility. A man with so much money at his disposal would have moved to another continent by now and taken good cover. She didn’t expect them to find him easily, but she knew that if there was something that money could do for you, it would do what seemed too hard for the man without money to spend.

            “Aisha, we would pull every string that we can but I just think that you shouldn’t get your hopes high. No man will have that much money and sit put, he must be in Antarctica by now.” Moira started. Aisha’s face didn’t liven up and Moira didn’t expect joy on her face with that sort of news. “Look, Aisha, I know this is new for you, I mean…falling in love, but, I want to promise you that it is never always like this. It gets easier. If Craig is not the guy for you, someone else will.”

            “Please don’t say Hakeem.” Aisha said cutting in. Moira smiled as her friend seemed to be coming alive. “It would be alright, Aisha. I’ll call our guys at the airport and see if there is any news on him.”

            “Maybe you should check through seaports too.” Moira nodded. “But Aisha, if Craig has really absconded with your money, do you still want to love such a man? I mean, he is not worth it.” “You don’t choose who you love, right?” Aisha replied as she started the car. “Right now, I don’t care if I would never be with him, I just want to be see him again. Maybe we can depart on clearer terms now and I could be sure that we had nothing.” Aisha concluded.

Moira knew better. It was not about being sure that they had nothing, Aisha wanted to fight for something. It was clear to her now. She watched as Aisha drove the car without any real enthusiasm, she started to worry about allowing her drive. Aisha took occasional looks through the window and focused on the road again. For mischievous reasons, this seemed to delight Moira. The Amazon’s ‘Mumu-button’ had been activated. Moira grinned at the thought of this. Aisha’s phone vibrated and Moira pulled it close before Aisha could reach it. “Speed up.”

            “I think its father.” Aisha said Moira nodded as she confirmed. “We would talk to him when we get back to the office. For now, you have to drive. So, Speed up!” Aisha sighed and stepped on the accelerator.

++++****++++  

           “Where have you been all day man?” Bolu asked as he turned off the TV. “I have been waiting for you.” Craig helped himself to a seat. “Did you have to fly down here? I told you I would return to meet you.”

            “What if Alhaji had arranged to have you locked up? What would I have done? I had to come here to ensure your safety.” Craig shrugged. “Luckily for us, nothing like that happened. He told me to stay away from Aisha.”

            “That’s expected. The man is disappointed in you but I believe he will come around.”

            “I hope so, now he has to see me in the light of who I really am. I don’t think people easily come around that. And I believe that he must prefer the other guy to me.” Bolu shook his head. “When are you going to see Aisha?”  

           “I…I don’t know. I don’t know if I can face her.” Bolu smiled. “You can. That is the whole essence of your coming here. You have to face her and let her know how you feel about her. Who knows? She might feel the same and if that is not the case, you tried. At least, you bore your heart out to her.”             “I don’t know what to do.” Craig replied in a low tone.  

           “Aisha is the woman you love, she is the woman that you really have to talk to.” Craig raised an eyebrow. “Do I go now?” “I don’t know. You know how you plan these things. Go ahead and think of something.” Bolu replied. Craig relaxed in the chair as he took a deep breath. Bolu smiled at the thought of his next question.  “And the credit cards?

                   Craig turned his face away from him as he consumed himself in thoughts.

            ++++****++++

                        “Dad, you sent for me.” Aisha said as she walked into Alhaji’s office. Moira walked in quickly after her. She couldn’t let any gist slip past her.

            Alhaji Ibrahim nodded with a smile. “I have big news for you.” He started.

            “What is it?” Aisha asked, helping herself to a seat. She didn’t look as enthusiastic as her father would have liked. “What is it, Aisha?” he asked.

            “She’s got the flu.” Moira immediately said. Alhaji stared at the girls as he took a seat. “What flu?”

            “Sir, you can’t understand.” Moira replied. “Let’s get on with the good news.” She added. Alhaji smiled. “You have made some extra cash, Aisha.”

                                “Okay.” Aisha replied flatly. Alhaji stared at the girls carefully. “What am I missing here?” he asked.

            “Dad, you are missing nothing. I don’t just feel okay.” She replied.

            “Have you been to the hospital? I’ll ask someone to take you.” Alhaji said as he fetched his phone. Aisha shook her head as Moira smiled. “Dad, I am not sick.”

            “But…But you said you don’t feel well.” He replied as he took his seat beside her. “Tell me princess, what can daddy do for you?” Moira grinned. Alhaji was acting as though Aisha was his five or seven year old daughter. That was not Aisha’s style and it didn’t take long before Aisha snapped out of her father’s niceness.

            “Dad, come on…what’s with the princess talk?” Aisha asked. Alhaji smiled. “No matter how old you are or how far you go, you will always be daddy’s princess. So, tell me, what is bothering you?”

            “I am afraid you can’t help her, Sir.” Moira replied with a grin. Alhaji stared at Moira. “Why not?”

            “These are matters of the heart, Sir. You won’t understand.” Moira replied. Alhaji stared at Aisha. “What is this about?” Aisha ignored him. He picked up her credit cards from the table and placed them in her hand. “You sure know what these are.” He said. Aisha stared at Moira and then back at her father. “Was Craig here?” she asked. He nodded and poured himself some wine. “And he is gone forever.”  

           “Dad!” Alhaji stared at Aisha. “He has returned your money, you should be glad.”             “Dad!!” Aisha groaned.

            “Aisha! What is it?” he asked. Aisha blinked. “What did Craig want?”

            “What do you want me to tell you?” Alhaji asked.

            “The whole truth, Dad.” She replied. “Dad, I know you have never lied to me, but, right now, I want you to tell me everything that Craig told you and what he came here for, I beg you not to tell me anything otherwise. Even if it hurts me, I’ll take it.” Aisha concluded as she panted. Moira swallowed. She knew that anything Alhaji said now would go a long way for Aisha. Aisha was in love with Craig and she would do anything to rewrite her wrongs. Moira was worried about Alhaji sending Craig off forever.

She stared at Alhaji as he sipped his wine and then back at Aisha whose eyes were already gathering tears. Alhaji delayed the distance of the wine to his mouth as he sipped. What would he tell Aisha? He wasn’t the man who would lie to his daughter, but at this moment, the truth didn’t seem too palatable for him and his new plans for Aisha.

He had seen Aisha for the woman that she was now – weak, fragile and needing love. Was he going to take all that from her? Hakeem was returning and as far as he was concerned, Hakeem was deserving of Aisha’s love too. Why did she have to fall for a con man? He had to tell Aisha something. She had asked for the truth from him. He gulped his wine and took a seat. “Aisha, he told me a lot of things, and I recount them.” He started.

            “Dad…” Aisha said as a drop fell from her eyes. He blinked. “I am not torturing you, Aisha and I don’t want to, but, I really can’t start explaining everything that he said to me to you. And I don’t feel bad about it, all I will do is summarize it for you.”

            “Summary? Dad, this is important to me.” Aisha said. Alhaji hissed. “Look, Love is never hard to find, you just have to be open to the possibility. Hakeem loves you.”

            “Dad, what you meant to say is, ‘Company is never hard to find.’ That’s what Hakeem would be.” She replied. Alhaji stared at Aisha for a while and then continued. “Where is all these coming from?!” Aisha didn’t respond. Alhaji turned in Moira’s direction. “It was all a game, right? When did it get this complicated?” Moira mouthed.

            “Go…on!” Alhaji barked. Moira took a seat. “Nothing to say.”

            “Aisha??? Don’t tell me that you are in love with Craig.” Alhaji said. Moira smiled. “She is in love with Craig.” Alhaji’s eyes popped. “What???”

            “Well, Sir, you said she shouldn’t tell you that she is in love with Craig, I thought I could help her.” Moira replied with a grin. Alhaji turned in Aisha’s direction. “Is that true?” he asked. Aisha remained mute. “You have got to tell me something, Aisha dear. You have to. I am your father and mother, I am here for you. You have to tell me these things.” Alhaji pleaded.

            “Sir…Sir…” Moira started.

            “What is it, Moira?” he asked. Moira smiled. “I think you are being too hard on her. Maybe you can give her some time and space.”

            “No, I won’t!” he replied. Aisha nodded as she wiped the tears off her face. “Yes, Dad. I am in love with him. How and when it happened, I don’t know. But I am proud of it and even though I know that he might not love me back and that he only wanted me for the money and the game that we had. I am glad I fell in love, I am glad I learnt how to feel special about someone else. I am glad that I know what love is, and I am sorry, Dad, if I disappoint you right now, but, I am happy about how I feel. The only thing that keeps me sad is that fact that I didn’t love the right man-” Aisha said amidst tears.

            “-well, you are wrong.” Alhaji muttered in a low tone. Moira gaped as she watched Aisha speak. Aisha didn’t hear him as she continued. “-And even though it hurts me, I’ll do it all again to love him. He might not have been perfect, Dad, but he was mine. This thing I feel, I am going to nurture it and when I am strong enough, I am going to fight for it and fight for him, and if I lose, fine. But when I win, you’d be proud of the woman I have become.” Aisha concluded as she wiped her tears. Alhaji and Moira took deep breaths at the same time. Alhaji wiped his forehead as he stared at Aisha. “Are you done talking?” he asked. She nodded. “Yes, I am. I would be on my way now.”

            “Well, you are wrong about Craig.” He said. Aisha nodded. “I know he wanted the money, thank you.”

            “Yes, you are right about that, but, you have one thing missing.” Aisha stared at Moira and then back at her father.

            “Craig loves you.”

…it’s all fun and games until someone falls in love….and then the fun and games become real fun…and real love too.

Story by Tomi Adesina .All rights reserved.

Read Next Episode: All Fun and Games – Episode 15

All Fun and Games – Episode 13

Read Previous Episode: All Fun and Games – Episode 12

“Except if a grown man has become too tiny to find, I suggest we stop wasting our time.” Moira said as she shot a glance at a busy Aisha. Aisha wouldn’t budge as she looked behind the couch. “Aisha….” Moira stressed as she watched her friend search hopelessly. Aisha pushed the couch aside and made for the inner house. She had to find something. Anything. She needed to find something that would assure her that the game was still on and far from over. She needed to be sure that Craig had not walked out of her life forever.

The apartment was as clean as new. Even the plates in the kitchen were washed and stacked! Behind her façade, she had hoped that something meaningful might come out of this relationship and that moment when she ‘thought’ that Craig actually proposed to her seemed to be the turning point. He had captured her heart behind the piles of their lies and deceit. However, she was alone in those fantasies and dreams. Craig had been the real player all along. There was a game plan and he stuck to it. She took her seat on the edge of Craig’s bed as she stared at the hollow room. She took a deep breath as she cast her mind to the few moments she had shared with Craig. They were moments that she knew she had to cherish forever, they had gone and were gone forever.

Her heart pulsed at almost the same rate as the day that she had crashed into Craig’s arm in tears. She closed her eyes as she relived the moments of his heart close to hers. She knew his heart did beat that day. She knew that for that moment they were locked in an embrace, there was no game player among them. There was no leader. It was just two helpless people in the room in an embrace, needing each other. She wiped a tear drop from her face as she thought of her best moment with Craig. A moment she thought marked the end of their folly.

A moment that she had believed was the turning point for them. He had proposed to her. Craig’s victory was not in his ring or in his suit. She had seen it in his eyes that day. For sure, she had seen the wrong thing. The man she fell for was a first class con artist. The combination of a thief, liar and a loner. He had all the attributes to sway any woman. She acknowledged his physical attributes but wasn’t totally smitten by them.

The moments that welled in her was when he reached to her loneliness and sealed them. For that, she was grateful. But then, she couldn’t believe he was gone, that he couldn’t even stay and make what was a lie seem real and be real. Her intention was to tell Craig how she felt about him. There would be no need for that now, at least, she now knew how he felt about her. Not everyone could really find true love. For women like her, there was no true love. She had tried it and it went wrong. How did she ever fall in love?

Aisha’s heart was filled with questions that needed to be answered. A song lyric had spelt love to be ‘a beautiful thing’. There was nothing beautiful about how she felt. She felt defeated, sad and most of all, weak. She had been too weak with Craig, she had let him creep in effortlessly to her heart and the mighty amazon without love did finally beat for another. She wept. Moira took a deep breath as she watched her best friend cry without holds. Aisha wasn’t fighting back tears or wiping them off classically. She was bleeding out her emotions the only way her eyes could. She was in tears and Moira knew this was the Aisha that she might have been proud to have under another circumstances, but right now, her friend was hurting and hurting badly.

Moira joined Aisha on the bed. As she reached out to Aisha, she turned away and buried herself in the pillow. Aisha wanted to cry. Maybe it was best to let her cry at this moment. Moira could only watch as her friend cried. Crying had never been Aisha’s style. She would just sit at the piano and let it all out with hard strokings of the chords until she had started to sweat. Crying seemed good and Moira wasn’t about to ruin one of their best moments.

For Moira, she had found a new angle to taunt Aisha from. For Aisha, she had learned how to heal. Moira drew the sheets over Aisha as the loud tears declined gradually to the sob phase and eventually she couldn’t hear anything. Aisha was asleep. She had cried for over an hour. Moira stared at the dried marks from the tears that had formed on Aisha face and shook her head sadly.

++++****++++

Bolu stared outside the window and let out a huge roar. He smiled as his voice echoed into the distance. He paused again and let out another roar and he continued until the fifth time. He smiled at Craig. “You might want to try it, it’s refreshing.”

            “Keep that up and they are going to be sending Security up here in no time.” Craig replied as he sipped his drink. Bolu smiled as he took his seat beside Craig. “How do you feel? You own so much money right now. Aisha was good business.” Craig dropped his glass and walked over to the window. “I am ashamed.”

            “Ashamed? Bro! No one would be ashamed to have the money you have right now.” Bolu replied as he joined Craig at the window. “Yea!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Poverty is gone forever!” he shouted.

            “I am not proud of it.” Craig replied. Bolu tapped him. “Guy! Why you dey do like this na? Money is money o! You worked for this one! After all, you’ve gone everywhere with her, appeared on papers, at least, she won’t be tagged as a woman who never had any man and it is all thanks to you.”

            “I stole this money. I didn’t work for it.” He replied as he bent over the window. “Besides, Aisha doesn’t need to beg for a man. She is a woman who needed real love. The best she could find.” Bolu chuckled. “Well, she chose the wrong guy for the job. Dude, I think we can hire some men to look for Vicky for you, now that you have some cash to spare, I mean, she is a good girl and maybe you can actually care about her too.”

            “Never.”            

“Why not? She loves you. You just have to love her back. Simple.” Craig shook his head. “Never happening.”

            “Are you feeling remorseful about this Aisha thing? That babe isn’t bothered, you dey kill yourself. Her money flows.” Craig ignored him and took a seat.

            “When you hype prices for people in the mall and make some profit, what do you call it?” Craig stared at him. “Business.” Bolu nodded. “Do you feel sorry afterwards?”

            “No. Why should I?” Craig replied. Bolu smiled. “Well, this is business, bro. You shouldn’t feel bad.” He said grinning. “Business, bro! Good business!”

            “Aisha might have been business, but she stopped being business for me.” Craig replied almost inaudibly but loud enough for Bolu to hear. Bolu’s smile faded as he stared at Craig’s face. Craig wasn’t looking like the guy who pinned down his feminine conquest for fun and without remorse. He was looking far from the guy who was on a mission to get the best out of Aisha Bello and run. It was typical for most guys to change their minds once deep into such relationships, but Craig didn’t – not even when a father pleaded. He might have felt pity for Aisha, but he still had his intent straight. Bolu took a deep breath. “What’s going on, Craig?”

            “I care about Aisha. I want to be there for her, I want to fight for her. I want to protect her. I want to love her. I want to be her friend, confidant and lover. I want to be the man she wakes up and sees, the man who kisses her to sleep, I want to be everything in her life. I just want to be the one in her life.” Craig blurted. Bolu’s jaw was agape as he listened to Craig. Craig took a deep breath as he stared at Bolu. “I love her.”

            “Oh no…” Bolu said as he slumped into the chair. Craig wiped his forehead. “I don’t know what happened to me. I swear. It just happened. I can’t explain how I feel about Aisha.”

            “Then why did you take the money?” Bolu asked. Craig stared at him confusingly. “You told me to.” Bolu stuttered. “Clearly, I didn’t know you felt this strong about her. Why didn’t you just come clean?” 

                       “Come clean? Aisha Bello? How do you come clean before a woman that is almost perfect? What kind of love do I have to offer her?” Bolu shrugged. “Your imperfection.”             “Imperfection?” Bolu nodded. “Beautiful imperfections.”

            “Oh God…” Craig said as he buried his head in his hands.

            “I am sorry I pushed you, but I thought you got this covered.”

            “Love happened.” Bolu smiled as he took a seat. He watched Craig as he stroked his forehead. Bolu started to snicker. Craig stared at him as Bolu had now exploded into what seemed like a mocking laugh.

            “What is it?” Craig asked. Bolu struggled to catch his breath. “Look at you, man. I can’t recognise you. ‘I want to love her, I want to be her friend, confidant, and lover…I want to be the man she wakes up and sees and blah blah blah. You sound like a sixteen year old boy. Have you been watching those Mexican soaps?” Craig smiled faintly as he tried to turn his face from Bolu.

            “Oh my gosh! You love her!” Bolu shouted.

++++****++++

“Here’s some water.” Moira said as she handed Aisha a glass of water.

            Aisha stared at the glass. “What is the water supposed to do for me?”

                        “Err…Water regulates Homeostasis.” Moira said proudly. “I am your fairy godmother.” Aisha nodded. “Turns out that’s the only thing you must remember from school.” She replied as she set the glass on the side table. “Since you are playing fairy godmother, you might as well serve me something real to eat.”

            “Water is the appetizer.” Aisha rolled her eyes. “Water? Appetizer? Where did you learn that from? Moira’s special cookery book for idiots?” Moira pinched her. “Easy on me. I am being nice to you.” Aisha smiled. “Thank you. But, what I need now is my money.”

            “What money?” Aisha stared at her. “The money that Craig-fine-faced-robber stole from me.” Moira smiled as she took her seat beside Aisha. “What did you dream about when you slept?”             “Nothing.” Moira raised an eyebrow. “Are you sure? This is a plan for you to see Craig again, right?”

            “Why would I want to see a thief again? For your information, I am over him.” Moira smiled. “It doesn’t take a genie to know that you can’t fall out of love in a day. So, keep that lie to yourself, darling.”

            “I don’t care what you say, right now. I am going to work this out.” Aisha replied, getting off the bed. Moira nodded. “What plans do you have to recover your money?”

            “I have none yet. But I want you to think of it.” Moira shook her head. “No, I am not very proud of playing a part in that sham we did. Even though Alhaji hasn’t directly confronted me, I know he is really disappointed in me, so, I don’t want to have to think of anything now.”

            “What are you afraid of? Is your mind so full of filth that you can’t birth a clean plan?” Aisha asked with a smile. Moira smiled back. She had a light Aisha with her. “I know you still want to see Craig.”

            “A part of me wants to see him and ask him lots of questions and afterwards slap him.” Aisha replied. Moira nodded. “That’s all? You forgot something. After the slap…”

            “Then kiss him.” Aisha replied. Moira smiled. “Okay, so do we set our dogs on his trail? I assure you they’ll comb him out from wherever he is hiding on the surface of the earth.”

            “Why don’t we declare him wanting by reporting him to the police?” Aisha asked with a grin. Moira frowned. “Aisha? Do you know what that means?” Aisha shrugged. “He becomes more popular by gracing newspapers and magazines.” “No, ma. You, my friend, become the ridicule of the town for having a scammer as a fiancée. I am assuming you forgot the society knows about the both of you. We are going private on this one.” Moira replied.

            Aisha nodded. “But what if they can’t find him? There are no numbers to call or places to go, he’s disappeared into the thin air.”

                        “Well, we just have to trust our guys to find him for us. I believe they will.” Aisha wanted to see Craig again. She knew she might not have the words to say if they eventually did meet again and she might feel low of herself realising that she had wasted her time loving a man that only wanted her for the game, but, she would take her chances. She would want to see him again, even if it is before…she throws him in jail.  

           “Any word from Alhaji yet?” Moira asked, jolting Aisha out of her thoughts. Aisha shook her head. “I apologized to him and I really hope that he could forgive me.”

            “I know he will. I believe he doesn’t hold it too much to heart.” Moira replied. Aisha rolled her eyes. “Why did he will all my fortune to my child?”

            “Be grateful, at least, he didn’t will it to an outsider.” Moira replied with a smile.

            “Dad is pissed at me. I worked hard to earn all what the family has. Why did he have to that to me?” Moira smiled. “He is only securing the future of your baby. I would do anything to be born of you right now.” Moira added with a grin. “Where’s Hakeem?”

            “Why are you asking me?”

            “Maybe because I think he would have tried to contact you?” Aisha fetched her phone from her purse. “He hasn’t and I haven’t either. Do you want to speak to him?”

            “No. But, I have a feeling that Hakeem might just be…you know?” Moira added with a grin. Aisha rolled her eyes. “Where are you heading with this, Moira?”

            “I am only suggesting something that might be a possibility, the reality of which, we have closed our eyes.” Aisha smiled. “No, we haven’t closed our eyes. I have closed my eyes to it, you still have your eyes open and you are still very much ‘legally’ single. So, who knows?” Aisha asked as she walked away.

++++****++++

Bolu joined Craig in the living room. “What have you decided?”

            “I don’t know. I can’t keep running like a coward.” Bolu nodded. “But you can’t act like a fool either. Right now, you have bruised one of the most powerful families and I am sure that they will have their guns blazing for you.” Craig took a deep breath. “I need to talk to Aisha.”

            “It won’t be easy to go and see her. Why don’t you call her? Maybe you both can arrange to meet somewhere and clear this up.” Craig shrugged. “That might be an option, but I can’t call her. I want to do things well and do them right.”

            “I just think that going to her is like walking into a trap right now. There would be police everywhere looking for you. We stole…I mean, you stole!” Bolu said with a smile. Craig sighed. “Well, let them pick me up. I am going to her and I am going to tell her how sorry I am and how I feel about her.”

            “She is not going to believe you and you know why?”

            “Why? Because I stole some money?” Bolu smiled. “It is not only about the money. Her father just willed to his grandchild, right? Do you think they are going to trust you with that?”

            “You might have a point, but we all make mistakes and I have made mine and I am terribly sorry about it. Is that so hard?” Bolu smiled. “It isn’t. Except that you are directing it to the wrong person. I am not Aisha.”

            “What if she doesn’t want me?” Bolu shrugged. “That’s a huge possibility and you have to understand the fact that she is not obligated to forgive you. So, whatever you do, try not to be your usual self.”

            “And what is that?” Bolu smiled. “Cocky. False humility is the new cool.”

            “I care about her, nothing here is false.” Craig retorted, feeling offended. Bolu nodded. “It’s a line I picked up, don’t take it personal.” Craig took a deep breath and approached the door. “Wish me luck and if I don’t return.”

            “Go and win the woman you love, don’t come back if you don’t win her heart.” Craig stared at him. 

               “Well, the possibility of that is high, so, maybe don’t come back at all, I can enjoy some of your acquired riches.” Bolu said with a smile. Craig showed him two cards. “I have them with me.” He replied and walked out.

++++****++++

Aisha handed some files to Alhaji Ibrahim. “We have good returns here, Sir.”

            “I’ll look at them after lunch. Do you want to go to lunch with me?” Aisha smiled. “Thank you, Dad. But, I am going with Moira.”

            “That’s okay by me, I’ll just see you after lunch then before the next meeting.” She nodded. “Okay, sir.”

            “When are we discussing the details of your break up to the press?”

            “Details?” Aisha asked, looking stunned. He smiled. “At least, we have to let them know that there won’t be any wedding again…at least, not yet.”

            “Dad, we’ll discuss after lunch. Bye.” Aisha replied and hurried out. Alhaji took his seat and stared at Aisha’s picture on his table. The door opened after a few minutes and Craig stood before him. “What??? Why are you here?” Craig blinked as he approached Alhaji.

              “Sir, I am deeply sorry for disappointing you.”

Story by Tomi Adesina .All rights reserved.

Read Next Episode: All Fun and Games – Episode 14

All Fun and Games – Episode 12

Read Previous Episode: All Fun and Games – Episode 11

  Craig smiled as Aisha and Moira yelled at each other. He stared at his wrist watch and then back at the ladies who didn’t seem to be giving each other any breathing space. Their screams now went from venting their frustrations and disappointment to who had the loudest voice while yelling.

          Craig smiled again, this time, not at the reason for the arguments but for the fact that even the highest pitch of their yelling couldn’t be compared to the tone of one of the girls in the hood he grew up. He concluded that ‘yelling’ had different categories – That of the Rich and the Poor. He rolled his eyes as they seemed as though they wouldn’t give up. They were quacking in his ears.

            “Master Planner, I am so waiting for your next move.” A livid Aisha said. Moira laughed. “I like the title you have attached to it, but you don’t have to be cynical about it. For all I know, I didn’t spill anything to Alhaji.”

            “So, how did he know?” Aisha continued. Moira shrugged. “I don’t know. But I am surprised that you would ever look in my direction.” She replied as she sipped her drink. “Typical of you, Aisha. Someone must always be on the receiving end of your aggression.”

            “What are you trying to say?” Aisha shouted at the top of her voice.

            “You don’t want me to go there and I don’t intend to.” Moira replied. “Let it go, Aisha. I am innocent.” Aisha sank into her chair furiously. “All I know is that I want my money.”

            “Is that all that matters to you?” A voice cooed from a corner of the room. Aisha and Moira stared at Craig in an instant. It was as though they didn’t know he had been with them in the room. Of course, he had been, but their constant yelling had isolated him to a corner as they lashed at themselves. Aisha flipped her hair over her shoulder as she prepared to respond to him. “Aren’t you here for the money?”

He nodded as he approached them. “Yes, I am. This is business, remember? But…But I just think that for once we should admit that we lost this one. A…Aisha, what if this could be real? I mean…it…it doesn’t have to be a game anymore.

I…I think…” Craig paused as he swallowed. He had been struggling with the right words to say all he had in mind for Aisha, but he felt like a coward, maybe Moira’s presence contributed to it, but he could find the courage to say the right words and he hoped that his eyes could say it, but Aisha wasn’t even looking. She was drawn into another spat with Moira. He knew there was no need to say how he actually felt. “Aisha, give up. We lost.” He blurted angrily. Moira chuckled as Aisha pounced on Craig with her next response. “I have not lost anything.”

            “It is in her blood to win.” Moira added. Craig nodded. “Apparently you learnt from the best. Alhaji did well to zero us out there.” He replied. He took a deep breath and focused on Aisha. “You knew that Alhaji suspected something about this, right?” Aisha ignored him.

            “Why didn’t you tell me? Clearly you weren’t surprised when he started with us.” Craig probed. She smiled as she stared at him. “I wasn’t about to have you go and try to cover up your tracks there with some weak story about how you grew up in the Deserts of Dubai and made it to the top when some Arabian riders took you in.”

            “What? Have I ever said that?” Craig retorted. Moira smiled. “What she means is she wasn’t going to let you make a fool of her.”

            “Well, you ended up making a fool of me. If I had known, I would have been ready. We are in this together. Partners.” Aisha shook her head with a cynical smile. “Don’t get ahead of yourself, we are not partners. I hired you for something and you have gone ahead and fluffed your lines.”

            “Me? Alhaji certainly didn’t find out from me, you are the one who didn’t have your bases covered as well as they should.” He replied as he pulled out his phone from his pocket and turned it on. “I think my work is done here, we can cancel this wedding now.”

            “I will blow the final whistle.” Aisha replied. Craig shook his head. “You have been playing this game alone for a long time.”

            “What the heck did you think you were doing when you proposed to me without my notice and invited the press to it?” Aisha yelled. Craig ignored her as he stared at his phone. His face went stoned as he read Bolu’s ping. “DANIEL TOLD ALHAJI. BEWARE!!!” Craig clenched his fist in anger as he turned in Aisha’s direction. “I am sorry. I messed up. But we are done here, Good bye.” He said. He grabbed his jacket and stormed out of the house. Aisha stared at Moira confusingly. “What was that about?”

            “I should be asking you.” Moira replied. “I wasn’t the one he apologised to.” She added taking a seat. “What if it was Craig’s friend that leaked it to your Dad? Seeing how he left here” Aisha nodded her head slowly. “You may be right. Oh boy! I am so going to kill someone.”

            “And that someone should be your piano?” Moira asked. “I like how you vent all your anger on it, shame Craig chose to fool you with it.” Aisha rolled her eyes. “Please, don’t remind me.”

            “Aisha, you are in love with Craig. When are you going to tell him?” Moira asked. Aisha stared at her. “Are you drunk? How am I supposed to tell a man that I employed to play a game with me that I am in love with him? For all we know, this might even be a whim and not love. I have no real idea of what love is and I am not willing to have that idiot play on the little emotions I have.”

            “Let’s analyse the situation, how do you feel when you are around him?” Moira asked. Aisha hissed. “This is not gonna work.”

            “What are you afraid of? That you will realise that you love this guy? Come to think of it, he is not so much of a bad guy.” Moira replied.

            “But he is the type of guy that might just smear my love in my face and run too. I am not taking that chance.” Aisha replied. Moira folded her arms. “Have you thought of the slight possibility that he might actually like you?”

            “I know he doesn’t. He…He is a player and a very good one. He pulled a Piano stunt to get to my heart and made me say a genuine ‘yes’ to him and all I saw was the press in my face. What do you call that?”

            “Aisha, what if that dinner was actually private until you mentioned the press?” Aisha shrugged. “All I asked him at first was why he had organised a private dinner. You might have scared him off.” Moira continued. “Aisha, I believe that he might have actually organised that dinner for the both of you until you brought in the press issue and he just tapped them up to satisfy you. Maybe you actually chased this one away.”

                        “I…I don’t know. But, I said a real ‘Yes’ to him and he was messing with me. That’s what hurts.”

            Moira nodded. “What am I saying is I think that you made him call the press, I believe that he was genuine up until when you introduced the press idea.”

                        “What if he wasn’t true at first?”

                        “What if he was?”

            Aisha swallowed. “Why are we even flogging this issue? He is not an issue. There is no love there and that is that. Maybe it’s just one of those girly things, a crush or something.”

                        “Really?” Moira asked with an eyebrow raised.

            Aisha took a deep breath. “He said ‘goodbye’ too. Remember? Let it go, Moira.” Aisha said and left for her bedroom.  

      ++++****++++            

“Take it easy, man.” Bolu said holding Craig’s hand as they approached Daniel’s house. Craig pushed him away. “He’s ruined everything. Is that how much he hates me?”

            “Yes.”            

“I am going to teach him not to hate too much.” Craig said, banging on the front door.

            “I don’t think he is here. I think he’s left town already.” Craig fumed. “Coward! Where did he go?”

            “I am not a coward. I have been waiting for this day.” Daniel said as he approached them. “The day when I would stand face to face with you because I have defeated you in your own game.” He added with a smile. “The day has come. I wouldn’t miss it for the world. I can travel in peace now.” Craig grabbed Daniel by his throat and crashed him into the floor. He pummelled his face with constant hits from left to right until Daniel’s blood had smeared his face. Bolu couldn’t get a hold of Craig and he was glad when Daniel’s blood hit Craig’s face and he had to stop pounding him.             “I have been waiting for the day that I would have to beat you without mercy and I am glad the day has come.” Craig replied as he kicked Daniel aside. “Have a safe trip.” He added and walked away with Bolu chasing after him. Bolu grabbed him by the hand. “Craig, he is a mess.”

            “Good. I was a mess before Alhaji too.” Bolu nodded. “I know, but, we…we can’t leave him like that.”

            “I can.” Craig replied and walked on. Bolu caught up with him. “He is our friend.”

            “Dude, he is not my friend…not anymore.” Craig replied as he stared at Daniel sprawled out on the floor.  

           “Okay, let’s be good Samaritans.” Craig laughed. “So I am acting as the thief and good Samaritan at the same time?”

            “Please man, I don’t want him to die. He is a chicken.”

            “He should have thought about that before he went ranting to Alhaji about matters that didn’t concern him.” Bolu nodded. “I know, let’s just take him to the hospital.” Craig sighed. “We are dropping him at the corner.”

            “Thank you.”

++++****++++

            “Do you think the Doctors will attend to him there?” Bolu asked as Craig drove. Craig shot at him angrily. “Look, I have tried, okay? You can go back there and take care of him if you want.”             “You are still a good guy inside.” Bolu said with a smile. “Anyway, what are you going to do now that Alhaji is aware?” Craig shrugged. “I am not bothered about him.”

            “So, what bothers you?”  

           “I…I think I like Aisha.” Bolu chuckled. “A leopard never changes bro. You don’t like Aisha, you just like the money.”

            “You don’t know how I feel about her!” Craig shouted. “I want to take care of her, I want to hold her close and feel her heart beat against mine and I want to protect her, i…I want to watch her when she sleeps, I want to be there for her every time and every day and even if this is how crappy our relationship, this joke is, I never want to leave her side.”

            “Bro!” Bolu said as he stared at Craig. “You are beginning to sound like a girl.” Craig stared at him. “Am I?” Bolu nodded. “Yeah and that terrifies me. You are a man, hard core. No time for love. Love is all fairy tale and for the movies. When did you get this weak?” Bolu asked as he hissed.             “Bolu, I think I want Aisha in my life.”

            “What are you saying? This is just a game. This is what it is for her and that is what it should be for you. Right now, everything is over and you should move into the final phase of your plan before Alhaji sets his dogs on your trail. You don’t want to be caught napping.”

            “If I do it, I will hurt Aisha.”

            “That was the initial plan, wasn’t it?” Craig blinked as he drove on.

++++****++++            

“Aisha, you have hurt your father.” Moira said as she plaited Aisha’s hair. Aisha nodded.

            “What are you going to do about it?”

            “I don’t know. I am scared about how he would react when I accept everything.” Moira nodded. “He is still your father and I am sure that he understands why you did what you did.”

            “I don’t know what to say, Moira. I am sure I have lost his trust.”

            “You’ll gain it back. Just give it time.” Aisha nodded. “Craig said ‘goodbye’, you think he meant it?”

            “I didn’t think you cared about it.” Moira replied with a grin.

            “Well, I do.” Moira smiled. “There’s only one way to find out. Try calling him.”

            “That would crush me and you know it.”  

           “Good. We stay in limbo.” Moira replied. Aisha hissed. “I don’t think he is gone… at least, not like that. I’ll check him after I visit my Dad.”

            “Smart choice.” Moira replied.

            “What if he doesn’t love me?”

            “You can send an SOS to me. I’ll come and pick you up.” Aisha stared at her. “You don’t think I am about to go to Craig to tell him the stupid things that I feel.”

            “I thought that was the plan.” Moira replied.

            “You thought wrong. I am not about to disgrace myself.” Aisha replied. “By the way, do we have any business deal to handle yet?” Moira nodded. “We do, but I am handling them. You need to sort yourself out, Aisha.”

            “Is it this issue with my Dad or the one with Craig?” she asked.

                        “Both of them, Aisha. You are going to apologize to your Dad and then you are going to speak to Craig.”

            Aisha stared at her. “I am going to my Dad, but Craig? I don’t know.”

                        “Well, I’ll keep motivating you till you end up in Craig’s place.”

            Aisha shrugged. “Maybe…not.”

            ++++****++++

                        “Hi Dad.” Aisha said as she stood before her father. Alhaji Ibrahim dropped his coffee aside and folded his newspaper. “Hi Dad?” She nodded as she took a seat beside him. “How are you?”

            “Twice in one day? Not typical of Aisha to visit like this.” Aisha nodded. “Dad, I am sorry.”    

         “Sorry? What for?” he asked. She swallowed. “Dad, when you said that my inheritance was dependent on getting married, I hired Craig. I know that I might have disappointed you by going so low, but, I just felt that love isn’t for me and that I just needed to get my inheritance from you and then I decided to find a way.” She paused and stared at Alhaji who buried his head in his hand. “Dad…I…I am sorry, but, I am really to blame in all this and I accept it.”

            “All I did was love you, Aisha. To be honest, I thank you for this sport you pulled on me, I can admit that for the first time in your life and even though it was a game, you had fun.” Aisha took a deep breath. “Dad, I know you are not proud of me and that this is a huge ridicule, but I am willing to do anything to gain your trust back. I’ll wait, I’ll work for it. I’ll earn it.” Alhaji shrugged. “Aisha, you played me and played me well. I feel terrible about it, but, it is life.”

            “Father, I am sorry.” Alhaji nodded. “I know you are. Where’s your boyfriend now?”

            “He is gone.” Alhaji smiled. “You know I actually thought that man had guts. I would have loved him as a son-in-law. Such a shame.”

            “What is my punishment, Dad?” Alhaji smiled. “That’s the problem with you, Aisha. Everything is not a game. This is not a game for me. I am hurting. My daughter was desperate for her inheritance that she stooped so low as to hire a man to convince me that she was in love. I bought it and you know why, I trusted you. I bet you paid my guard to feed me lies too? What was the plan, Aisha? Get divorced after two months and run off with your money? To do what? I don’t get it.” Alhaji said with his eyes wet. “All I care about is you. You and only you. Someone was going to love and will still love you.”

            “Is that someone Hakeem? Dad, you can’t buy love.” Alhaji hissed. “The irony of life. What was it that you did with Craig?” he asked. “Enlighten me, Aisha!” She relaxed in the chair. “It’s all over now, Dad. I am not proud of myself and I will take full responsibility for it.” He nodded. “Yes, you will. Anyway, I think it is time you figured out a lot of things that pertain to your life by yourself. And even though it might hurt me to say this, I think I saw a slightly better woman when you were with that phoney. So, we might take a positive from your games.”

            “Dad, I really want you to forgive me.”

            “I have. It is just that I can’t help but remember how my own daughter played me.” She nodded. “I know, but that means you haven’t forgiven me.” Alhaji smiled. “I have,” Aisha’s phone vibrated and she tapped it on. Two messages came up and she clicked on them. She gaped as she stared at her Bank Alert and then stared at Alhaji. Her Father looked at his confused daughter. “Is anything the matter?” he asked. Aisha knew there was a big problem, but she didn’t know how to say it to her father and at least not now. He would have a laugh and she didn’t need that now.

‘…it’s all fun and games until someone gets robbed’

Story by Tomi Adesina .All rights reserved.

Read Next Episode: All Fun and Games – Episode 13

All Fun and Games – Episode 11

Read Previous Episode: All Fun and Games – Episode 10

Aisha stared at Craig. This was one of the most difficult moments in her life. ‘In business, the main focus is on the player, not the consignment to be purchased’. She didn’t know where she had picked up that line from but it seemed like way back in business school. Her Professor had a knack for it. He’d say, ‘Number one rule of football, never take your eyes off the ball. Likewise in business, never take your eyes off the player’. This might not have seemed like business to the regular girl. This is a man on one knee with a diamond ring stretched at a girl. She should not be even having a sniff of business in her head. She ought to jump at the ring and scream.

But for a split second, she had reminded herself of what this was – a game. It didn’t seem like a game though; this is a piano – her love and life. Craig had warmed into the deepest part of her heart. Why would this be a game? There were no pressmen around, this was just Craig and his ring… and maybe his heart lifted out to her. What was she waiting for? A smile warmed across her lips as she stared at him. Craig was worried. Aisha was smiling. She still had to reach out for the ring for him to be convinced that she would marry him.

For a woman like Aisha, you can’t trust a smile. A smile could either be in appreciation or in mockery. Right now, his poor soul couldn’t be mocked. Not after all he had done to get her to this stage. Mockery would open the door to a whole new world that neither of them could tolerate. He smiled faintly as he hoped that she would say something and spare them the ridicule that might loom if she said ‘No’. He smiled again as she seemed to be searching for answers in his eyes. The answers were not there, he knew. Aisha nodded her head slowly with a smile. “I’ll marry you, Craig.” He smiled as he slipped the ring onto her finger and drew her close for a kiss.

He prayed that she wouldn’t hesitate. Any wrong move now on her part and it would all be a mess. Aisha was unsuspecting. She really wanted to kiss him. He saw it in her eyes. ‘Could she be in love with me?’ Craig thought within a second as he kissed her passionately. Her heart raced fast against his. She was like a child who yearned for love. She kissed back.

He knew she felt something for him. Flashes in their eyes and microphones dangling from covers, Aisha drew away from Craig. Her smile faded. It was all part of the game. For a second, she thought it was real. That it was just the both of them. The Press took pictures of them and she wore a smile for the camera, the cameo type that she always had on. Craig spoke briefly to the press on their behalf. Aisha withdrew to the Piano as she watched Craig discuss with the pressmen.

She ran her finger across her lips. She cursed herself for being vulnerable and kissing him back, but what could she have done. She was in love. She thought it was real. She didn’t think of the press, all she thought of was Craig. She actually did think of Craig. She could have sworn that he felt something for her too, after all, she felt his heart beat against hers.

He was like a randy boy in love when he kissed her. But now, she knew better. He was the master of this game; he had put on an excellent show for the press. She knew she couldn’t wallow in self-pity forever; she shook off her pain and thanked her eyes for standing still and not getting all wet from regret and the pain she felt. Craig joined her. “Smooth, right?” She nodded in agreement. “I must say that almost caught me by surprise, but that was good. Great show for the media.”

                        “So, I think we should go over to your father tomorrow and give him the good news.” Craig said. Aisha stared at him. “You think?” He nodded in agreement. “Yes. Right now, we are looking great. We shouldn’t waste any more time.” He replied as he poured her glass.

                        “Why did you bring a piano?” she asked. Craig shrugged as he handed her the glass.                         “You know more than I think you do, right?” she asked as she placed the glass beside her. “Craig, you could have chosen something else. Why the piano?” He took a deep breath. “I know you play the Piano. And very well too. Now that I think of it, we should have played a note for the press. I guess we would do that on the wedding day, right?”

                        “You do? How much of it do you know?” she asked. He raised an eyebrow. “I mean the assassination of my mother and my life afterwards?” she continued. “What did my Dad tell you?” Craig stared at her. “What are you driving at, Aisha? Women.”

                        “Craig, I know this is a game, but, I love my mother. I love my piano. You could have chosen another instrument.” He nodded. “I know all that, Aisha. I put up all this to make the proposal as perfect as it can be, you should be thanking me. This is going to be the talk of the town for years to come. Do you know how many folks will be talking about it before we are married, when we are married and even after the divorce? I am a genius, babe. I deserve lots of thanks for this. This video will hit YouTube and other networks, we would look so perfect. Just like you have always wanted it.” He replied as he sipped his drink.

                        “Thank you.” She replied and walked away. Craig swallowed as he watched her walk away.

  ++++****++++

                        “Good thing you came.” Moira said shutting the door after Aisha. “Alhaji was here.” Aisha took her seat. “Why? Do we have a deal to seal?”

                        “No. It is spooky, weird and I am a freaked out! What I have to tell you is big!” Aisha raised a finger to halt her. “Be right back.” She said and disappeared into the kitchen. She returned with a glass of water. “Now speak”, she said as she sipped some water.

                        “Aisha, your father is nullifying your contract.”

                        “My contract? At work?” Moira shook her head in disagreement. “No. Alhaji wants to cancel the deal that he had with you about getting married before you get the inheritance.”                         “What? Why?” Aisha asked looking ruffled. Moira shrugged. “According to him, he wants to show his support for you and Craig by removing the contract.”

                        “I don’t get.”

                        “Well, Alhaji thinks that the contract is unnecessary pressure and that he should stop putting pressure on you.” Aisha finished the water and placed the glass by the table. “And you bought that crap?”

                        “Of course not, but what was I supposed to tell Alhaji? You paid Kola well, right?” Moira asked. Aisha nodded. “Kola won’t bail on me. Even though he’s been Dad’s security guy for years, he still knows how to be loyal to me.”

                        “I think Alhaji knows about this game.” Aisha laughed. “Never!”

                        “Then why would he bring up this news at this time?”

                        “Maybe his conscience bugged him too much.” Aisha replied as she picked up the remote. Moira shook her head. “I don’t quite agree with you. If it was about his conscience, he could have waited till daybreak, he came here this midnight, Aisha, something is wrong. Even though Alhaji managed to wave it off, he did call Craig a ‘phoney’ when we started discussing.” The remote dropped from Aisha’s hand. “Phoney?” Moira nodded in agreement. “Yeah. Something is not right, Aisha.”                         “God!” Aisha said as she dug her hand into her hair. “He must know something. Alhaji is very selective on his terms.” Moira took a deep breath. “What are we gonna do?”

                        “I don’t know. But I am going to kill Kola if he betrayed me.” Moira massaged her forehead. “I don’t know why Kola would snitch on us. I just think we should find a way to kill this whole thing before Alhaji confronts you.”

                        “Us! Confronts us, Moira!” Aisha corrected as she clasped her hands on her face.                         “What???” Moira screamed. Aisha jolted in fear. “What is it?”

                        “He proposed?” Moira said, staring at the ring. Aisha took a deep breath. “Yes. That’s why I am more worried. By now, the press would be preparing to slam the news on their front covers. What would I do to stop the news?”

                        “Oh my…I thought we were to choose the date for the proposal.”  

                       “He took me by surprise and he had the press as a backup. At first, I felt he was genuine and I had said yes to that.” Moira stared at her. “Excuse me?” Aisha nodded as teardrops rolled down her eyes. “Yes, Moira. I…I just thought something was there.”

                        “Oh no! This is not good.” She said as she joined Aisha in her seat and pulled her close for a hug.

                        “At first, there was no press. It was just us. I…I thought I actually did mean something to him.” Moira rolled her eyes as she consoled a weak Aisha. One she had not seen before. She stroked Aisha’s hair tenderly as she heard her friend sob quietly. “Aisha?”

                        “Yeah?…” Aisha replied in a low tone.

                        “Are you in love with him?” Moira asked. Aisha did not reply.

                        “You don’t have to be ashamed with me. You don’t have to be afraid to say how you feel. Love is not a weakness, Aisha. It’s strength.” Moira said as she swallowed painfully. Aisha stared at Moira and chuckled. “Do you know what you sound like?”

                        “Your mother?”                         “No way. You are nothing close to her.” Aisha replied as she wiped her eyes. Moira smiled. “Stop being evasive, Aisha. Do you love him?”

  ++++****++++

Craig downed his next glass and tapped on the table to alert the barman. He felt as though he had fallen off a train. The evening had gone according to his plan B, and it hurt him so much to have to sway to the second side. He tapped on his phone to check the time. They were late into the night. He hoped Bolu got his message. He knew he couldn’t go home looking so torn. Aisha should not see him drunk. Bolu joined him. “Hey Bro!”

                        “Mission accomplished!” Craig said as he raised another glass, smiling. Bolu smiled. “You are the greatest player of all time.”

                        “When are you getting married?”

                        “We are seeing her father tomorrow. We would set the date then.” Bolu shook his hand. “I am proud of you.” Craig nodded. “I am not proud of who I am.”

                        “Why? You have officially signed into the richest Nigerian family, one of the richest families in the world and you say you are not proud? Man, I would kill to be in your shoes right now.” Bolu replied beckoning to the barman. “We need more drinks.”

                        “I can’t take anything.”

                        “Why man? You should be in cloud nine by now. Omo, you dey dull o! Wetin do you na?” Craig didn’t feel okay. “I really wanted to propose to her.”

                        “Guy, I thought you said you did.” Bolu retorted looking confused. Craig nodded. “I did, but, not the way a man should. I think she cares about me.” Bolu laughed. “Dude, the fact that a duck plays with swans doesn’t make it a swan. You are not in Aisha’s class, this is the best you get from her. Money. Not feelings.”

                        “Now I am a duck, right?” Craig asked. Bolu smiled faintly. “I don’t mean it that way, but, I am just saying that you shouldn’t dream bigger than this. This is where it all comes down, take the money and run far away from here. She can’t love you. People like Aisha don’t love anyone except themselves and their money. She went as far as buying you to achieve her goal, that’s as hot as it gets for them in the upper class. Forget it, man. There is no love there. They just have houses, there is no home there. Believe me, you have won yourself something big, take it and run.” Craig swallowed and finished his drink.

  ++++****++++

Bolu watched Daniel as he spoke to the Manager at work. Daniel handed the Manager an envelope and collected another. Bolu rushed after him as he saw him head for the exit. “Daniel!” he shouted as he pulled him back at the garage. “Where are you going? I have been to your house and it is so empty!” Daniel adjusted the rumpled part of his shirt. “I am leaving. I can’t stand all of you.”                         “Daniel, I don’t know why I keep coming back. I can’t just let go off our friendship.” Daniel smiled. “Poor you. The person responsible for all the pain and hurt I feel doesn’t care, why is Craig not here? Why is he not trying to make amends?”

                        “Daniel, Craig hasn’t wronged you. You have always envied him. That’s the problem.” Daniel hissed. “Envy? Look, I don’t envy him. I hate him. Right from when he lost his parents and his uncle beat him, we always took care of him. My family. How does he repay me? Once I like any girl, all he does is smile like a peacock and the girls are off to his side. Why? Why is he so wicked? Why does he get all the girls? Why did he have to get Aisha? It was my stand.”

                        “Bro, you were bored. Craig only took over for you and it just shows that it is merely coincidence. Craig didn’t mean to approach Aisha. You know what happened.” Daniel shrugged. “He is a greedy dirty bastard.”

                        “And you are a jealous b*tch! Why are you so conceited? You are full of hate for someone who doesn’t hate you.”

                        “Well, that’s his problem. I hate him. And I will always hate him. I am going far away and I hope that he doesn’t come close to me before he snatches my wife from me in the nearest future. He is bad luck to me and he would soon be to you. Just wait and watch him ruin you.” Bolu took a deep breath. “This time it really is goodbye. I wish we didn’t have to part ways like this.”

                        “How else would you like it? A party? Celebration for my tears?”

                        “You are pitiful.” Bolu replied. “Have a nice life.” Daniel nodded with a smile. “I will. I know you won’t.” Bolu turned to walk away. “Oh, wait!” Bolu stopped and stared at him. “What do you want?”

                        “Since you are Craig’s dog, you might as well tell your master that Alhaji Ibrahim is aware of this scam.” Bolu gasped. “What?”

                        “Yeah! I hate that bastard so much. I have made his playboy task a little harder.” Bolu held his head in fear. Daniel laughed. “Perfect! That’s exactly how I wished to see Craig, it’s a shame you have taken up the look for him.”

                        “No, Daniel. Why?” Bolu asked. Daniel shrugged with a smile. “I lost Vicky. He is not getting Aisha. Have a nice life.” He replied and walked away. Bolu searched for his phone in his pocket but it wasn’t there. He dashed into the mall.

  ++++****++++

Alhaji stared at Craig and Aisha with a smile. He had practiced the smile for hours in his bathroom when he woke up and now he got it. “Congratulations.”

                        “Thank you, Sir.” Craig replied. Alhaji smiled. “Errr…where are you taking her for the honeymoon?”

                        “We haven’t thought of it yet, Dad.” Aisha replied, cutting in. Alhaji smiled. “Aisha, why are you so apprehensive? Why don’t you let your future husband speak?” Craig smiled at her. “It’s okay, babe. We are family, now.” He said to her.  He then turned in Alhaji’s direction. “Sir, we are yet to make a decision, but we would soon enough.”

                        “That’s great.” Alhaji replied. “There is something important that I have to share with you both. I would have had a private discussion with Aisha, but, seeing how far you guys have gone, it is better for you to know about it now.” Aisha’s heart skipped a bit as Alhaji smiled in her direction. She smiled back and with a lot of confidence. Craig’s phone rang. He stared at the caller ID. “BOLU” Alhaji smiled at him. “This is a very important discussion.”

                        “Of course, Sir.” Craig replied and turned off his phone. Alhaji nodded. “Thank you.”

                        “We are ready, Dad.” Aisha said. Alhaji sat up. “I don’t think Aisha told you this, but I made an agreement with her that I would be releasing her inheritance to her when she got married.” Aisha swallowed hard. Craig took a deep breath and Alhaji smiled. “Well, you know how difficult it is for a man to have a daughter who has made herself her own man and has decided to go against everything that marriage stands for. I was desperate and so I decided that I would release her buck to her when she finally got married.”

He blinked and continued. “I know it sounds really selfish and greedy of me but I hope you understand why I made that decision, I couldn’t have my daughter continue in that line. Do you understand me, Craig?” Craig nodded. “Yes, Sir. I totally understand your reason.”

                        “Thank you. At least, we have cleared that part. But, I have decided to nullify those terms.” Alhaji said. Craig stared at Aisha. Aisha’s face was stoned. She wasn’t surprised as Moira had given her the preamble. “Dad…”

                        “Hang on…Hang on….” Alhaji said, cutting in. “Actually, I believe that what you and Craig have is special and it shouldn’t be ruined. I mean, you are even getting married. This is beautiful, I am not going to ruin it with my stupid pressures on you both. Do you understand what I am saying, Craig?” Craig nodded. “Yes, sir. It is good that you give us a huge room to love and all without pressure.”

                        “Exactly! That’s what I thought when I made that decision. Also, I feel that you both should be allowed to blossom in the best way ever and have a perfect life together without influences from Alhaji Ibrahim Bello.” Alhaji added smiling.

                        “Dad, what else?” Aisha asked. Alhaji smiled. “Why do you think there is something else? You are very suspicious of people, Aisha. That is not good.”

                        “I know you well enough, Alhaji. There is something else.” He nodded with a smile. “There is. I have decided to cut you out of my will, after all, it is my money.” Aisha folded her arms. “Can we discuss this in private?”

                        “No. We shouldn’t be keeping things from your future husband. I am not done yet.” He replied. He then turned in Craig’s direction. “I am sorry, young man. Aisha and I fight a lot.” He said with a smile. “Anyway, in addition, I feel Craig is a wealthy and capable man and he should be able to take care of you in line with the money that you have, you can’t suffer. You don’t need the money.”

He said. Turning to Craig, “Or what do you think, Son? You should be able to take care of your wife, right?” Craig nodded slowly. “Of course, Sir. Aisha is my responsibility and I will take care of her.” Alhaji clapped and sipped his drink. “Great. I love a real man. You have made a smart decision, Craig. Take the mantle. Lead the home. Be the father, husband and provider.” Aisha stared at her father. “Thank you, Dad.” Alhaji smiled. “That’s not all. I have amended my will and I willed everything in equal proportion to my grandchild or grandchildren.”  

                       “Grandchild or Grandchildren?” Aisha asked. Alhaji nodded with a smile. “Yes, I am expecting them to fill this house and run around and I am sure that you both will provide me with lovely grandchildren. That’s what couples in love do. Isn’t that right, Craig?” Craig nodded with a smile. “Of course, sir.”

          ‘It’s All Fun And Games… until Alhaji gets involved’

Story by Tomi Adesina .All rights reserved.

Read Next Episode: All Fun and Games – Episode 12

All Fun and Games – Episode 10

Read Previous Episode: All Fun and Games – Episode 9

 Alhaji Ibrahim took a close look at Daniel and then at his wristwatch. “Who did you say you are again?”                         “My name is Daniel.” Daniel replied, sounding more confident than the first time.             Alhaji blinked as he swallowed. “Why do you want to give me information about Craig?”

            Daniel took a deep breath. “Because I think you are a good man and do not deserve to be fooled in the manner in which you are being fooled.”

            Alhaji ran his eyes over Daniel. “No one is good except God. Why should I believe anything you tell me about Craig?”

                        “Because I am his friend.”

            Alhaji swallowed. “His friend? What do you have to say?”

            Daniel motioned towards a seat. “May I?”

            Alhaji nodded in agreement as Daniel took his seat. “Hurry up.”

                        “Sir, Craig and Aisha are not in love. They have an agreement to be in a relationship.” Daniel said bluntly.

            Alhaji took a deep breath and relaxed in his seat.

            ++++****++++

                        “Why are you in such a hurry to get married? We have to be careful with this thing you know?” Aisha said as she folded her arm.

            Craig nodded. “I know but I think the earlier, the better. I want to get my life back on track as soon as possible and I don’t think fooling your Dad for so long is such a great idea.”

                        “Since when did you start to care about my father’s emotions? I don’t.”

            Craig shrugged. “Well, I do.”

            Aisha nodded slowly as she sipped her drink. “We would get married when I think it is time and get divorced as appropriate too.”

                        “I would appreciate it if your timing is sped up.” Craig replied as he fetched his drink.             Aisha stared at him as he gulped angrily. A smile lurked around her lip as she shook her head. “You suck at losing.”

            He dropped the glass. “What do you mean?”

                        “You are starting to like me, aren’t you?” she asked.

            Craig smiled. “You flatter yourself. I am tired of you.” “No, you are not. You planned ‘this’ to see if you could get to my heart, sorry, it didn’t work.” She replied as she dug her fork into the food. “Besides, it is a tasty meal. Thank you for it.”

            Craig smiled as he watched her eat.

            ++++****++++

Alhaji wiped his forehead with his handkerchief from all he had heard. The sweat now trickled down to his back and he could feel them between his thighs too. His eyes were red hot, not out of anger, but out of the tears that welled in them. Could Aisha be fooling him?Was there any crime in loving his daughter? Daniel watched Alhaji’s facial expression and the old man didn’t look well. “Sir?”             “Please continue. So, Craig is no hot shot, right?” Daniel nodded in the affirmative. “He is a lowlife with nothing until he met Aisha and his meeting with Aisha is what has funded his pockets. Sir, to be honest, I stand nothing to gain from telling you all these but I just want you to know the truth before it is too late.”

            “You expect me to confirm this, right?” Daniel nodded. “Yes and that is why I provided my name. I want you to use it so that Craig would know that his secrets are all out.” Alhaji picked his phones from the table. “Is that all?”

            “Yes, Sir.” Daniel said, standing up.

            “Thank you very much, Daniel.” Daniel smiled. “It is my pleasure.”

            “I know it is.” Alhaji replied standing up. “Anyway, I don’t think you should say you are Craig’s friend. A friend won’t actually do what you just did. Be that as it may, I am grateful.” Alhaji replied and walked away.  

++++****++++

Craig wiped some food off his mouth. “So, we are here alone, without the press. I want to know you more, Aisha.”

            “Pick up any business magazine from you vendor. All you need to know about me is there.” She replied as she drank some water. He nodded as he fetched a magazine. “I already did. I don’t want the Aisha there. I want you. I want to know you.” She smiled. “There is nothing to know apart from the woman in the magazine.”

            “Really?” he asked, standing up. She nodded in agreement as she fetched her phone. It was time to ping Moira. She had no idea of what Craig was up to, he seemed to be doing too much and she didn’t like that. Craig smiled and walked away.

                        AISHA: PING!!!                       

MOIRA: PONG!!!AISHA: Hey Idiot! I am in trouble here, SOS!

                        MOIRA: Do I call the Police or SWAT team? Lol. What’s up, babe?”

                        AISHA: Craig just stepped away and I don’t like what am seeing here, he organised a private dinner for us here.

                        MOIRA: Ouch! And I don’t like that gown you wore o! I think he wore a tux, shey? 

                       AISHA: Are u high? I am talking about a private dinner on the beach! This is not funny again. 

                       MOIRA: Take a picture please of the set, I want to see it. Omg! Such a romantic scene *puppy eyes* Shame am not there. Who’s gonna love me? *tears*

                        AISHA: Moira, I don’t like how this is going. I need you to help me. 

                       MOIRA: Chill babe. It’s just dinner. Food, essential commodity for the body. Remember?”

                        AISHA: This is turning into more than food. I can’t stand what he is doing; he wants to know me more. His own terms.

                        MOIRA: There is no harm in a little bond, Look, Aisha, u r gonna have to try to blend with your Dear Future Husband.

                        AISHA: Moira, this is not funny. What do I do? I need to get out of here. I think Craig likes me. Like Likes me.
MOIRA: LOL! Aisha, you are so full of it. The Dude wants Sex and Money from you, simple. Besides, if you run now, you are going to give him the impression that you like him too and that is where the danger lies. Be careful, lady. Mommy is warning you. *wide grin*
AISHA: Shut up, man!
MOIRA: Just play along with him, don’t try to act tough, be free, and you’ll survive the dinner. Anyway, I have to sleep now. Some of us are lonely.AISHA: Wait! He is coming, what do I say? Do I ask where he went too?

            Aisha stared at the message as Moira read it but didn’t reply. She hissed as she tossed the phone back in her purse.

                        “Can you come with me, please?” Craig asked. In her heart, she smiled. She didn’t have to ask any question, but she was worried. What was Craig planning again that could be worse than a dinner? Maybe a bedroom in the sand? Her heart skipped as the thought passed through her mind. She was hesitant to stand up from the chair. “Why?”

            “You just have to follow me. Try to trust me a little.” She swallowed as she took his hand and went with him.

  ++++****++++

Moira rolled over her bed as sleep wouldn’t come. She was actually sleeping when Aisha had ‘pinged’ her with her emergency. The doorbell chimed or had she heard wrong. Who would be calling the house at this time of the night? It had to be Aisha else the security men wouldn’t have let the visitor in. At least, not this late. She tossed the sheets away and slipped into her slippers. She hurried downstairs and straight to the door. She paused as she approached the door. Aisha had her own key; she would have let herself in. The doorbell chimed again and her heart raced faster. What if robbers had found their way into the house? She drew closer to the door with fear and peeped through the hole. She was afraid. Robbers would have been a much better guest than Alhaji Ibrahim at this time of the night.

            “Sir?” Alhaji Ibrahim stepped aside and walked into the house.

            “Aisha is not here, Sir.” Alhaji Ibrahim nodded as he took his seat. “She is with that phoney, right?” Moira’s heart skipped a beat. “Phoney?”

            “Don’t mind me.” He replied with a smile. “I was around the corner for some drinks when I decided to stop over to pay you girls a visit.” Moira swallowed as she took her seat beside Alhaji. “Sir, Aisha lives with Craig, you know?” Alhaji Ibrahim smiled. “I think I am aware of that. Anyway, we can have a conversation like father and daughter, just as always.”

            “Okay, Sir. Okay.” Moira said as she stared at Alhaji. She knew all wasn’t well. Alhaji took a deep breath. “I was with Hakeem today. He doesn’t seem to like Craig much which is very understandable but I want to know your own impression of Craig. What do you think about our Aisha’s boyfriend?” Moira blinked as she smiled. “Craig is Aisha’s type of man. They complement each other, they help their flaws and weaknesses and I’d say they’ll make a perfect couple.” Alhaji nodded slowly. “Can I have a drink?” YES!!! Moira had been waiting for the opportunity to run in to ping Aisha. “Of course, Sir.” She said with a smile and hurried to the kitchen.

                        MOIRA: PING!!!

                        MOIRA: PING!!!  

                      MOIRA: PING!!!    

                    MOIRA: PING!!! Moira stared at her pings as they delivered without Aisha reading it. She fumed at it and poured Alhaji’s drink.

            “Why did you take so long? Alhaji asked as Moira joined him with his drink. “Let me guess, you were alerting Aisha of my presence?” he asked with a smile collecting the drink. Moira raised an eyebrow. “Me? No. I couldn’t do that.” He laughed and then took his drink. He replaced the glass by the side of the table. “Prior to this moment, you have been excellent in telling lies, you just disappointed me.”

            “Come on, Alhaji, I agree I ‘pinged’ her but she is not aware of your presence.” Moira replied. He nodded, “That’s a good thing. I need to talk to you about something.”

            Oh God! Moira stared at Alhaji. “Can I get a glass of water?”

            He nodded with a smile. “As long as you don’t tell Aisha that I am here, at least…not yet.”             Moira nodded. “I can do that.”

                       “Please do it for me, I want to surprise her.” He replied.  

           Moira rose to her feet, “Trust me, she is already surprised in advance.”

            With that Moira scampered off into the kitchen and of course, she tried to dial Aisha again but to no avail. “Where are you???” she groaned as she slammed the door of the fridge.  

++++****++++

            “Where are we going?” Aisha asked. Craig smiled. “I told you to trust me, didn’t I?”             “Well, you did, but I didn’t actually enjoy you bringing me to this place for a private dinner without the press.” Craig nodded. “I apologise for that. It won’t repeat itself again.”

            “Good. So, where are we going to now?” He shrugged. “I want to surprise you.”

            “I am already surprised. I can’t believe I am even walking with you to never land. Besides, I forgot my phone, I should go and get it,” Craig stared at her with a smile. “You saw Peter Pan?”             “Every kid saw Peter Pan.”

            “Not me. I didn’t.” She rolled her eyes. “And I guess your knowledge of Peter Pan came from the wind?”

            “That’s more like it.” He replied with a smile. He stopped and then fetched a neck tie from his pocket. “I am going to blindfold you.” She shook her head in disagreement. “I know I should have taken my phone. You are a serial killer, right?” He smiled as he stood behind her. “No. But if you want me to be, I don’t mind.” She took a deep breath. “You are creeping me out.”

            “Really?” he asked as he whispered into her ears. His cologne filled her nostrils as he leaned closer. She wasn’t sure but it seemed he just wore it. He placed the necktie over her eyes and tied it firmly but carefully. “Can you see anything?” he asked.

            “Nothing.” She replied. He smiled. “I’ll take the lead.”

  ++++****++++

Daniel sipped his drink by the bar burdened with guilt from what he had told Alhaji and filled with pain from losing Vicky. He had done what seemed logical to him at that moment. He had his love scorned while Craig had love and money offered to him. No man should be that lucky. He thought aloud. “It should have been me. I owned that stand, not Craig. Aisha should have met me, not him.” He said as he drank.

            “Hey!” Daniel turned to see Bolu. Bolu smiled as he took his seat beside Daniel. “Guy, you look fresh o! Did you have a job interview?” Bolu asked, staring at the suit. Daniel swallowed as he cursed his luck inaudibly. He had come to the bar right from meeting Alhaji. “Not really an interview, but it was successful.” Bolu smiled. “That’s good. I heard Vicky left town.” Daniel nodded in agreement. “Yes, she did.”

            “How are you?” Daniel shrugged as he focused on the drink. “I am well. I don’t feel sad.”             “Are you sure? That’s good. It’s nice to see you taking it in good strides.” Daniel sipped his drink. “Do I have an alternative?”

            “Oh well…Look Dan, you do know that Craig loves you as a brother, right?” Bolu started. “All this friction between us isn’t cool, Craig would marry Aisha soon and all this would be over.” Daniel scoffed. “And then he would go looking for Vicky, right? She is obviously the only lady that can actually love him.”

            “Come on, man. I hate the tension between us. We used to be very happy.”

            “Point of correction, you have always been content with the way that Craig has treated us and that is because you might have no ambitions after all.” Bolu stared at him and then laughed. “Guy, wetin dey do you?Craig na our guy na and he is always there for us.”

            “What are you doing for yourself? You quit the mall to run Craig’s errands. When the divorce is over, Craig would have some proceeds from the divorce and he won’t share it with you. It is then you would realise how selfish and greedy Craig is.” Daniel ranted. Bolu took a deep breath. “I don’t know what to say, man. You keep surprising me every time. We grew up together and for the times and everything, I am trying to mend the fence but it seems like you want nothing to do with us.”             “There! You got it! I am done with you guys! Give up!” Daniel concluded as he gulped his drink. Bolu sighed.  

++++****++++

            “I am going to call off the agreement I have with Aisha.” Alhaji said. Moira stared at him with a great deal of surprise and worry. She tried to hide her worried look with a smile. “That…That would delight Aisha a lot.”

            “I know.” He replied with a smile. Moira drank some water. “So, why the sudden change of mind?”

            “I admire the relationship between Aisha and Craig but I feel I would not be supportive of them with that agreement being on.” Moira shrugged. “Does it really matter, Alhaji?”             “It does, Moira. It does.” Alhaji replied. Moira drank some more water and then faced Alhaji. “Sir, I think you are driving at something. Whatever it is, I want you to know that Aisha loves you and the best way to show your love to her is by supporting her decisions.”

            “I support her decisions, Moira. I do.” She nodded in agreement. “Sir, what I really don’t understand is why you want to cut the agreement you had with her.”

            “Moira, it is a good thing, isn’t it? I am relieving her of the pressure that I put her under by saying she has to get married before getting her inheritance. I don’t think I am doing anything wrong here.” He replied. “Why do you think what I am doing is wrong?” Moira shrugged as she took a deep breath. “I think I am really tired tonight, that’s why.” Alhaji Ibrahim nodded. “That’s probably why.”             “When do you intend to tell this to Aisha?” Moira asked. Alhaji paused for a while. “I have not actually thought about it, but I don’t want you to tell her before I do. I actually came to you to know your own opinion of it.”

            “Well, I think it is a very good thing to do. Aisha would be very happy to hear that, Sir.” He nodded. “I know she would be.” Moira yawned so as to set Alhaji on his way. “I am sorry, I am just so tired.” Alhaji rose to his feet. “Sorry for coming this late, I just thought to let you know about it first.” Moira smiled. “Thank you, Sir. It’s okay.”

            “See you later.” He said and walked out. Moira shut the door after Alhaji and immediately dashed in to call Aisha.

  ++++****++++

Aisha couldn’t see anything. It was really dark. She was blindfolded. “Are we there yet?” she asked.             “You should be scared. I might be a serial killer.” Craig said in a comical voice.

            “Very funny, Craig. Very funny.” She replied. “But really, where are we going, Craig? We have been walking for a long time now.”

            “Where are we, Aisha?” Craig asked. She hissed. “How am I supposed to know that? I am the one with the blindfolds, in case you haven’t noticed.” She replied. “Anyway, I still feel the sands so we are obviously still at the beach.”

            “That’s right, anyway, we are almost there. Just a couple steps more and all this would be over.” He replied.

            “How many more steps, Craig?”

            He smiled. “Keep your hands on your thighs.” He said as he led her to a seat. “I’ll take your blindfolds off now.” Aisha took her seat and kept her hands on her thighs. Finally! Her blindfolds came off slowly. Before her stood a giant Piano. She shut her eyes and opened them again as she stroked her fingers against the chords. She tapped the chords again and then stared at Craig. “What is this?” she asked. Her tone was low and subtle. Nothing like her normal self. Craig had actually reached out to her heart. Craig got down on one knee and stretched out a ring before her. “Will you marry me, Aisha?”

Story by Tomi Adesina .All rights reserved.

Read Next Episode: All Fun and Games – Episode 11