Previous Episode: Mystery Cookies Episode 2
“Are you okay?” Lariba asked Catherine after noticing a surprised expression on her face when she reached for her pen.
“I’m okay. It’s just that…..” Catherine started and paused. “Never mind.” she said and answered her phone which was ringing.
Comfort Aning stepped out of her office to attend the departmental meeting and saw Catherine answering her phone. She opened her mouth to pass a comment and suddenly decided against it after Catherine rolled her eyes at her. She walked away.
The office got into a frenzy in her absence. It was another colleague, Eugene’s birthday and Agyeiwaa as usual was moving around and fussing over the birthday cake which was delivered to him not long ago by his girlfriend.
“That girl must really love you. Boy, this cake is so huge and I’m definitely helping you to finish that.” she exclaimed as she stared at the red velvet cake which sat on his table.
Eugene laughed and got up to do a fist bump with Nii Teiko who had just entered the office to celebrate with him.
“Yo bro, happy birthday. I heard about your cake so I’m here to see for myself.” Nii Teiko said as he settled on Eugene’s desk and turned around to catch a glimpse of Catherine.
Her seat was empty much to his disappointment and he wondered where she could be because he couldn’t locate her anywhere in the office. Catherine walked into the office a few minutes later after finishing her breakfast in the canteen. Nii Teiko’s face sparked with delight when he saw her walk in and winked at her when their eyes met. She ignored him and suddenly remembered the cookies she found in her desk and cringed once again at the possibility that he could be behind it.
The door flew open almost immediately Catherine settled into her seat and in walked Comfort Aning. Everyone shuffled to their seats and the office grew quiet again.
“When the cat is away, the mice will definitely play” she stated and sniffed in the air and walked towards her office. “Young man, you can’t just walk into this place and sit on desks. Don’t you have manners?” she stated when she saw Nii Teiko sitting on the desk.
He looked quite terrified. He had heard of how wild and bad-tempered she was but he had never had an encounter with her.
“Are you not supposed to be in your office? What are you doing here?” she probed further.
Nii Teiko said nothing and kept staring at her. Catherine and Lariba tried hard to suppress their giggles while Jacinta cast an unsympathetic look at him, quite happy with what was going on.
“I don’t want to see you here again, unless you have an important business with this department. Now walk out.” she instructed.
He slowly got off Eugene’s desk and made for the door. Mr Inkoom came out of his office to meet Comfort Aning. He looked at her with a why-are-you-back-so-soon expression on his face.
“The meeting has been postponed to Friday” she told him and opened the door to her office.
“That explains it” he said and followed her in.
“Let the kokonsa begin” Jacinta remarked after Mr Inkoom followed Comfort Aning into her office and sipped her juice. Everyone giggled.
In Comfort Aning’s office, Mr Inkoom helped himself to the coffee he was served with.
“So what was the reason for the postponement of the meeting?” he asked while sipping his coffee.
“Technical hitches. Plus the new software has some problems and was quite difficult to operate. In the end, it was decided that we met again on Friday.”
“Ah okay. Yaa Anima” he addressed her informally. “I have something to discuss with you.”
“I’m all ears” she said and smiled.
“It’s about your retirement. I overheard those girls discussing it the other time. It looks like they’re really looking forward to that.”
Comfort Aning smiled sheepishly.
“Let them say all they want and I’m very aware how much they can’t wait for me to leave but for your information, I’m not going anywhere.” she stated.
“And what do you mean by that?”
“Vitalis Boa-Amponsem can’t force me into retirement. Not after all the toil to make this company what it is today. I only agreed to go on voluntary retirement because I was up to something and now that I’m quite clear on what it is, I’m not backing off.”
“I don’t get you.”
“You see, I have some dirt on Vitalis. It’s a huge scandal which could make the headlines and so if he forces me to retire under the guise of a voluntary retirement, I’ll threaten him with that. I’m not going down without a fight.” she said and thumped her fist on her desk.
Mr Inkoom smiled and probed further.
“And what is that thing you have against him?”
“In due time you’ll know. I’m currently playing my cards well and I don’t want his little princess to suffer now. Let her keep wallowing in delusion until the right time when I strike.”
“This is getting interesting. Yaa Anima, I must say, you’re quite a tough woman.”
“Vitalis can’t throw me out of this company. Not after all I’ve done to bring it this far. Never” she repeated.
Mr Inkoom emptied his cup of coffee and took his leave, quietly rejoicing because as long as Comfort Aning was in office, he was secured.
“Lariba!” Catherine said and placed the tray containing her food on the table and sat down. “You won’t believe what has been happening to me these days.”
“What is it?” she asked and sat across Catherine.
“I don’t even know how to explain it. It’s both funny and strange.”
“Wait, let me guess. Your crush in the IT department has finally started noticing you, right?” Lariba squealed with delight.
“You’re just crazy. It’s far from that.” Catherine said and frowned while dropping her fork. “Jacinta never lied. The food tastes really bad.”
“Really? Now I’m scared to taste the food!” Lariba exclaimed.
“Let’s just manage it and get out of here” Catherine stated.
“So what’s this thing that has been happening to you? Are you receiving secret love notes from that guy?”
“Lariba, stop being silly” Catherine giggled.
“Talk of the devil and there he is” Lariba looked towards the direction of the gentleman who entered the canteen.
Catherine turned to look at him and felt butterflies in her tummy. There he was, the guy she had been crushing on for a while now. He took gentle steps to order his food and sat two tables away from them. Curtis was his name and he was a new employee in the IT department.
“Catherine, this guy is fine. Oh my God!” Lariba said.
“You know what I like about him most? His smile and the way he rolls up the sleeves of his shirt!” Catherine remarked.
“Unlike how Nii Teiko’s shirt is always crumpled, coupled with his skinny and hanging trousers and multi-colored socks” Lariba contradicted.
They both burst out with laughter which drew attention to their table. Curtis looked into their direction and smiled when his eyes and Catherine’s met. She blushed, smiled back and looked away immediately.
“Lariba, let’s get serious here. See, someone’s been leaving cookies in my desk anonymously.” her attention shifted to Lariba.
“Wow, how romantic?!” Lariba said.
“Romantic? I find that creepy. I mean why would you leave cookies in my desk and keep me in suspense for such a long time?”
“How long has this been going on?”
“This is the second time in two weeks.”
“Okay. And you have no idea who it could be?”
“No idea at all. That’s why I find it creepy.”
“Haha Cathy, relax. If you ask me, I find this fascinating and romantic. It’s clear that there’s someone in this company who has an interest in you.”
“And so you should be glad.”
“What if it’s Nii Teiko?”
“Really? After chasing you all over the place, do you think he’d resort to leaving cookies anonymously in your desk? He’s not that romantic or thoughtful.” Lariba rolled her eyes.
“You seem to be underestimating that guy. So far he’s the only one who’s been on my case for God knows how long. Doesn’t that make him the one behind it?” Catherine asked.
“Well, it could be true. But what if I told you Curtis also has a crush on you but is too shy to come forward and that he could also be behind those cookies?” Lariba’s eyes glistened as she spoke.
“You don’t say!” Catherine remarked, her eyes opening wide.
“Well, he does. I was talking to Mark last Friday and he dropped a hint about that. They’re quite close and they discuss a lot.”
“Ah wait! Who’s Mark? Is that the guy you’ve been crushing on who’s also in the IT department?”
Lariba shifted uneasily in her seat and nodded.
“You guys have been talking? Wow! Since when?”
“About a month now.”
“And you’ve never mentioned that to me. Ei Lariba.”
“It’s not that serious. Relax! We’ve been having small talks here and there until last week when he asked me out on a date. That was when I got to know.” Lariba said, trying hard to avoid Catherine’s questioning stares.
Catherine clapped when she was done talking.
“Oh my! I’m so proud of you. If only I had the courage to walk to Curtis like how you did.” she said smiling at Lariba.
“I didn’t approach him. He did! In the elevator. Apparently, the crush was mutual.” Lariba smiled.
“I see. So why does he always put on a straight face when he sees me if he really has a crush on me as Mark claims? He hardly says hi when our paths cross.”
“One, you’re quite unapproachable and you know that. Two, he’s quite a shy person. Three, you’re the daughter of the owner of this company and he doesn’t want it to seem like he’s after you for what you are. Besides, he joined us not long ago.”
Catherine nodded, analyzing what Lariba just said.
“And that’s what makes him different from Nii Teiko. He’s a gentleman and won’t force his way into your life just like that. He’s bidding his time. He’ll definitely approach you. Maybe he’s using those cookies to get to you.” Lariba continued.
“Well, that’s also possible. But that doesn’t shake off the uncanny feeling I have about those cookies. Let’s wait. Time will tell.”Catherine said as she thought of her plan to find out whoever it was.
She looked across their table and realized Curtis had already left and sighed. If what Lariba had just told her was anything to go by, she was really looking forward to when he would finally approach her. “Maybe I should smile more anytime we cross paths.” she thought, remembering the comment Lariba passed about she being unapproachable.
Throughout the week, she thought of how she was going to find “the cookie guy”. She had assumed it was a guy because she felt no girl would have the time to do that. She also realized that the cookies were in her desk on Mondays; the previous week and this week and if the person was going to put it there again, it would definitely be on the next Monday. Lariba was always the first to get to work and had never seen anyone drop the cookies in her desk. Catherine concluded that it was either the person dropped it earlier before Lariba arrived or dropped it after work when no one was around.
And so on Friday, she laid down her plan. She had parked her car at a location quite far away from work after lunch so that after work, she wouldn’t have to go through the trouble of going to park somewhere and returning only to find out the action was over. After work, she lurked around after informing everyone that she was leaving and waited. She knew the doors would be locked between 6 and 7 pm and so when it was a little after 6, she waited for the ‘action’. The whole place was quiet now and she had a good view. After about thirty minutes, she got fed up and assumed no one was going to show up and decided to leave.
Suddenly, she heard footsteps and kept still, waiting to see who it was. The footsteps drew closer and she heard a conversation between two people. After a while, the conversation became clearer.
“I’m not going on any voluntary retirement. Vitalis is forcing me out of this company to please his little princess and that will never happen.” a shrill voice, which Catherine realized to be Comfort Aning’s said.
Catherine’s eyes widened and she gaped in awe after hearing her say that.
“And what if he insists?” the other voice asked. It belonged to a male and it definitely wasn’t Mr Inkoom’s. She struggled to recognise the voice but still couldn’t.
The footsteps drew nearer and she held her breath.
“I know what to do. You know my capabilities. Just you wait and see.” Comfort Aning said. “For now, let’s just get to business.”
“Why here though?” the male voice asked.
“For a change. We’ll go inside soon.” came Comfort Aning’s voice and her voice drowned. The place remained silent for a few seconds.
Out of curiosity, Catherine stretched to get a better view and what she saw mortified her. Right in front of her department stood Comfort Aning and the HR manager, kissing. Her mind started racing wildly and inadvertently, she dropped her bunch of keys.
“Who’s there?” the HR manager asked and Catherine ducked in time to avoid being seen.
She heard footsteps approaching where she was hiding and froze.
Kokonsa – gossip
By Amanda or MandieTalks or Cediwaa. She is a Ghanaian