all fun and games

All Fun And Games Guide

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.

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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

All Fun and Games – Episode 9

Read Previous Episode: All Fun and Games – Episode 8

        “This will calm your nerves.” Craig said as he handed Aisha a cup of coffee.

                        She stared at him as she collected the coffee. “I didn’t know coffee calmed nerves.” She replied.

                        He smiled and took his seat beside her. “I guess…”

                                    “You guess?” He nodded with a smile. Aisha stared at him and smiled back. For the first time, she saw the charming smile with which Craig won his female conquests. The dimple that lurked around his cheek and, the slightly broken canine that his smile revealed and thick dark beards around his jaw made him absolutely gorgeous. She was taken by this. An awkward silence ensued as Craig’s eyes were all over her. Another thing he had going for him, his eyes were highly seductive. How could one man possess everything? Aisha blinked as his eyes probed her.

She swallowed her coffee as she buried her head in the mug. Craig knew she was beautiful. It was a fact that couldn’t be hidden. Aisha had beautiful white eyes and her tan brown skin colour was attractive. He loved the way her hair dropped slightly across her face and the smile he had seen on her face in the last minute provoked him.

A smile could really be an ornament. He swallowed as he watched her drink the coffee. Beneath her large white eyes, he still knew he could see her sorrow. She might have fought well to hide it from the world, but when he hugged her, he knew she needed someone. Her heart had raced fast against his and even though he knew his heart did beat, he hoped she didn’t notice that. She was still drinking her coffee and she seemed not to notice him.

He wondered why. ‘Wasn’t that smile good enough?’ he thought as he prepared himself to gain her attention. On a good day, he knew how to handle women, but Aisha had proved to be a challenge initially and he was willing to sustain the momentum, a wrong move now, and he would be the loser. Aisha knew something had to be going on in his head. It was in her head too, but, she knew she was vulnerable. She was sad and finding it hard to push the sadness away, she knew she needed to work. Work always found a way of distracting her. She placed the mug by the side table and smiled at Craig. “Thank you.”

                        “Uh?” he gaped. She smiled. “For the coffee.” She replied and walked inside. Craig watched her leave as he hit his forehead in frustration. “Sh*t!”

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

Aisha drew the sheets over her as she lay in bed.  She would try to sleep. For a moment out there, she knew was weak. She smiled at her foolishness. “You stupid girl.” She said to herself. She reached for her phone on the table and dialled Moira’s number. She was going to tell Moira what had happened, or what she prevented from happening. She thought in a split second that Moira would mock her, so she hung up. “Stupid Moira.” She said with a smile. “I won’t give you the satisfaction of saying “I told you so””, she said to herself as she returned her phone. Aisha sprang as she heard a light knock on the door. Her heart raced fast again. She knew she had to tell Craig off. He was slowing breaking her defences with his presence. “What is it?” she called in a sleepy voice.

                        “Oh…I…I thought you needed something?” Craig replied from the other side of the door. She grinned. “No, I don’t.”

                        “Oh…Okay. I’ll be here if you need anything.” He replied. The voice went dead. She smiled as she slipped back beneath the sheet.

                        “I…I don’t mean I’ll be standing out here, you know?” he called back. Aisha slammed her hand against the bed. “Goodnight, Craig.”

                        “Yeah…Night.” He replied. She turned off her light. His footsteps drew away from the door as soon as she did that.

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

                        “So, Craig was warming up to you last night? Oh my God! Tell me you let him.” Moira said with a smile. “Give me the full gist, don’t hold back any detail.” Aisha stared at Moira with a grimace. “What is your problem? Are you always this hmm…you know what I mean?”

                        “Say it. Bad child!” Moira replied with a smile. Aisha smiled back as she focused on her laptop. “I was going to call you last night to tell you, but I changed my mind. I don’t even know why I spilled today.”

                        “That’s because you can’t keep a secret for too long, your eyes betray you a lot.” Moira replied as she took her seat on the table right in front of Aisha. Aisha stared at her. “Moira, what are you doing? Do you know what will happen if anyone walks in and sees you sitting right before me like this?” Moira shrugged. “What do I care?”

                        “I care about my reputation. I am not about to be slandered in the press, so get off my table.” Moira smiled. “You are too cautious, Aisha. Live a little.”

                        “Yes, but not like this.” Aisha replied with a smile.

                        “Do you like him?” Moira asked, as she stared at Aisha. Aisha scoffed. “Of course, not.”                         “I think you have to be careful, Aisha.” Moira started as she returned to the chair. Aisha stared at Moira who looked really serious. “What is it?”

                        “I am not too comfortable with Craig warming up to you.” She replied. Aisha shrugged with a smile. “Why not? I am hot.” Moira smiled. “For once, I like your sense of humour, but I am serious. I…I just think he might have bigger plans. This is a game, remember?”

                        “Moira…I think you should chill. What happened last night can’t repeat itself again, it only happened because I remembered my Mom and cried. I…I was weak, that’s all. I am back to normal.” Moira shook her finger in disagreement. “What if you become vulnerable again, Aisha?”                                     “Moira, it is not every day that I get to feel bad about something. Just chill.” Moira stared at Aisha with a great deal of concern. Aisha was right about not feeling bad every day. Moira wondered how she did it, she could just turn off her emotions and act all macho and other times, she could be totally miserable. Those were the days that bothered Moira. Aisha looked up from her system and stared at Moira who looked lost. Aisha knew she bothered Moira a lot. “Let’s get food.”                         “Uh?” Moira said as she jolted back to reality. Aisha smiled. “Yeah, food.”

                        “Food?” Aisha rolled her eyes. “Basic necessity for the body. Food. Let’s go eat.” Moira nodded. “Of course.”

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

                        “Have you heard from Daniel?” Craig asked.  “Why are you bothered about him? I haven’t seen him since that burst.” Bolu replied without raising his head from the magazine he was reading.

                        “I believe he told Vicky. Do you think I should talk to Vicky?” Craig asked. Bolu shrugged. “I don’t think you should hurt her more. Going to meet her will arouse false hopes, no time for that now. You need your pot of gold.” Craig smiled. “Sure.”

                        “How is living with the Amazon going?” Bolu asked as he read from a magazine. “You do know that’s what they call her right?” Craig raised an eyebrow.

                        “The business world, I mean. Read Celeb magazines, guy. Soon your face go dey there too as per Amazon’s boyfriend.” Bolu said as he passed a magazine to Craig. Craig stared at the magazine. “What are they saying about her?”

                        “You can read, right?” Bolu asked with a smile. “There are figures of the profits she raked in last month in it, it will amaze you. She is a rich girl. In fact, she is flourishing.” Craig stared at Aisha’s picture on the front cover. “She is beautiful.”

                        “Excuse me?” Craig didn’t hear Bolu as he stared at Aisha’s picture. Bolu noticed this and tapped Craig. “GUY!” Craig rubbed his forehead as he dropped the magazine on the table. “What is it?” he asked defensively.

                        “Do you like this babe?” Bolu asked. Craig looked away. Bolu smiled. “Of course, why you no go like her? Money dey, the babe sef fresh, it’s only normal. When are you going to get in there? Leave for the boys o!” he said grinning. Craig grabbed Bolu’s shirt aggressively. “Don’t!” he said through clenched teeth. Bolu stared at him. “Easy, bro.” Craig took a deep breath and released Bolu. “Never talk about her like that again.” Craig said as he adjusted his jacket. “I am off to work.”                         “Guy, am sorry na. I didn’t know you like her.”

                        “I don’t like her. I just think she deserves some respect.” He replied. Bolu nodded in agreement. “Okay. I am sorry, can we at least finish the drinks?” Craig shrugged. “You can have it. I am out of here.”

            “I hope you are saving money for after your divorce.” Bolu said with a smile. Craig smiled. “I got my bases covered. See you.” He replied and walked away. Bolu smiled as he continued drinking.

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

                        “Are you really leaving town?” Daniel asked as Vicky packed her bags. Vicky stared at the bags. “Does it look like I am coming into town? Of course, I am leaving.”

                        “Are…Are you not putting up a fight?” Daniel asked. She stared at him. “How much more do you want to see me humiliated?”

                        “Look, Vicky, I can’t let you go.” Daniel said.

                        “You’ll have to do more than turning my taxi away to stop me from leaving town. I have nothing left here.” Daniel swallowed. “What about me? I love you, Vicky.”

                        “And I don’t.” He nodded. “I understand. This is it, you love Craig, he doesn’t love you. I love you, you don’t love me. We are both scorned, we can make it work.”

                        “You sure have a perfect way of rubbing it in, don’t you?” she asked as she wiped a tear drop from her face.  “I am sorry, it’s…it’s just that you don’t deserve this, I don’t deserve it too. We can be happy. I’ll make you happy. I promise.” He begged. Vicky took a deep breath. “Daniel, we won’t be happy. You know why? I don’t want to be happy with you. That’s a fact. You are not the kind of man that I want to be with. You are pitiful, ridiculous and not a very good friend. Everything you think you have done out of love for me has given me a clearer picture of who you are.” Daniel swallowed. “This sucks.”

                        “It sucks, right? That’s what I think of you. You are a loser, a fake friend and you don’t deserve my love. If Craig won’t love because he loves his girlfriend, then fine. He probably would never love me.” Daniel fumed. “Craig is a dirty bastard.”

                        “You are worse.” She replied. “Leave my house, Daniel.” Daniel clenched his fist. “You don’t even know everything about Craig.”

                        “I know enough, I don’t want to know more.” She replied. He blinked. “Really? Are you sure you don’t want me to tell you everything about that despicable fellow?” The door opened and a young girl walked in. “Aunty Vicky, the cab is here.” Vicky stared at Daniel. “Let me have a little good memory of you. Shut your mouth.” She replied and walked in to carry her bags with the young girl. Daniel clenched his teeth angrily. Vicky brushed him as she walked past with her bag. He watched her go in and out of the house two more times with the young girl until the cab driver shut his trunk and Vicky slid into the back seat. He stood motionless, burning in anger and pain at everything that she had said to him. He stared at her from the front porch as she placed her against the window.

            The cab took off and images of Vicky and the cab started to fade. He panicked and started to run. He chased and chased till he was tired and took solace on the floor.  

                       ++++****++++

                                    “I am getting lonely in the house.” Moira said as they drove back to the office.                         Aisha smiled. “I thought as much. I can come over tonight.”

                                    “Really? That’s so great. Thank you.”

                        Aisha smiled. “Why are you thanking me? I said I can, I didn’t say I will.”                         Moira rolled her eyes. “You are a monster.”

                        Aisha nodded as she pulled up in front of the office. She glanced at Moira as they saw Hakeem lurking around his car. “What does he want?”

                                    “Oh well, you would have to ask him.” Moira said as she stepped out of the car.                         Aisha watched from behind the wheels as Moira pecked Hakeem and left for the office. “Well played, Moira.” Aisha said as slammed the steering.

                        She took a deep breath as she approached Hakeem. “Hakeem, how are you?”                                     “Aisha.”

                        She nodded. “Yes, that’s my name. How are you?”

                                    “I am doing fine. Do you have a minute?” he asked.

                        She shook her head in disagreement. “No. I…I am really busy these days, so much work to do.”

                                    “Aisha, please give me audience.” Hakeem begged.

                        She rubbed her forehead. “What do you want, Hakeem?”

                                    “I…I know how important yesterday was for you and your family.”

                        She smiled. “I have moved on. Is that all? Thank you. See you around.”                         “That’s not all.” She paused. “What is it?”

                        “Tell me about Craig.” Aisha’s heart skipped a beat. “What do you mean?”

                        “I mean…who is he? What does he mean to you? Where did you guys meet?” She folded her arms. “Are you investigating my boyfriend, Hakeem?”

                        “Alhaji told me not to.  I won’t defy your father, but, I am a man who is in love with you. It hurts that you don’t love me, I just want to know if you are happy with him.” She smiled widely. “YES. We are happy. Get over it.”

                        “I can’t.” She shrugged. “Then I am sorry, it’s your loss.”

                        “Aisha, I don’t trust that guy.” Hakeem said. “I…I don’t think he is a good man.” Aisha nodded. “That’s why you are not me, we don’t think alike.”

                        “Aisha, I want to leave the country.” She nodded with a smile. “That’s good.”

            “I know you can’t wait to get rid of me, but, before leaving I thought I should see you.” Aisha smiled. “You have done well. Thanks for dropping by. Have a safe trip. Bye.” She said and hurried into the office leaving Hakeem standing outside. Alhaji Ibrahim’s car pulled up before Hakeem. He stared at the car surprisingly. “Sir?” Alhaji walked up to him. “I couldn’t travel, flight hitches, so I returned. Why are you out here?”

                        “I came to see Aisha, we have discussed. I was on my way.” Hakeem replied. Alhaji took a deep breath. “Look son, I know how you feel about Aisha and I would lie if I say I don’t feel bad for you, but, I am more concerned about my daughter’s happiness. Do you understand?” Hakeem nodded. “Of course. You are her father, you are looking out for her.”

                        “I think we should go and have drinks.” Alhaji suggested. Hakeem shrugged. “Don’t you want to see your daughter?”

            “I didn’t come back here to see her, I don’t want to bother her with my presence. I have a meeting with one of those men from Dubai. You know how they like to do business urgently, he just put a call through to me and said he’ll meet up, but I guess I’ll just divert him to meet me at the bar, he says he wants to sell merchandise.” Hakeem nodded. “Let’s go then.”

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

Craig wasn’t sure if he was doing the right thing, but he was determined to do something. He punched the elevator button as he stared at his wristwatch. It was almost 7pm. He stepped out on the last floor. Aisha’s secretary smiled as she saw him and he smiled back. He was holding a branch of rose flower in his hand so he could guess why she was grinning almost mischievously. He knocked lightly and pushed the door to Aisha’s office open. Aisha and Moira stared at him. Moira grinned. “Hello, Craig.”

                        “Evening, ladies.” He said as he walked in.

                        “Getting too comfortable?” Aisha asked as Craig stretched out the rose flower. He smiled. “It’s just a flower. Take it.”

                        “Why are you here?” she asked. Moira stared at the flower. “Take the flower first.”                         “No. There is something attached to him bearing a rose branch.” She replied. “Why are you here, Craig?”

                        “I came to take you out for dinner.” Moira smiled. “Hmmm…”

                        “Declined.” Aisha replied. Craig smiled. “You can’t say no. It’s not an option.”                         “And why not?” she asked.

                        “Dinner is at your house. I just cooked. I don’t want it to be cold.” Moira smiled. “Nice.”                         “Can Moira join?” Aisha asked with a smile. Craig stared at them. “Of course, why not?”                         “Except that I am very busy tonight, Aisha. I am sorry, some other time.” Aisha’s eyes popped as she stared at Moira. “She-devil.” Moira nodded. “I know. You guys have a nice time. I would join you next time.” She said standing up. She smiled at Craig and whispered into his ears. “Next time, try another lie.” Craig smiled as she walked out. “So, shall we?”

                        “Where are you taking me?” she asked.

                        “Can you keep a secret?” he asked. She nodded. “Largely depends.”

                        “I’m not telling you.” He replied.

                        “Is that your secret?” she asked. He nodded in agreement. “Let’s go.”

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

                        “Your Dubai business dealer isn’t here yet, it’s been thirty minutes.” Hakeem said. Alhaji Ibrahim drew up his sleeves to check the time. “He would soon be here, you know how those people are. Let’s talk about you. Your Dad told me that you would be leaving town, I think it will help you get a lot of things off your chest.” Hakeem nodded. “I hope it does. I can’t seem to get over the fact that Aisha is with someone else. It is very hard for me.” Alhaji nodded. “I know it is not very pleasant. Life doesn’t always give us what we want. We learn to deal with what comes our way.”

            “Why do you trust that guy so much, Alhaji? I…I just don’t feel him.” Hakeem replied as he sipped his drink. Alhaji shrugged. “I understand how you feel, you are in a competition with the man. I don’t expect you to trust him.”

                        “It’s…It’s just that he suddenly appeared out of nowhere without any warnings or signs. I mean, we didn’t know he existed, all of a sudden, he started existing.”

                        “He has been existing for a while now, Hakeem. He wasn’t born last week. Son, I did my check on him, he is not an alien. He is a hardworking young man and he loves Aisha. That’s all that counts. If you love her as much as you claim, let her be happy. I think she loves this guy.” Hakeem shook his head sadly. “I just want to be selfish right now, but she is not even looking in my direction.”                        

“Learn to get over it, Hakeem. Learn.” Hakeem nodded. “I am trying. It is not the easiest thing to do, Alhaji.” He replied. “I have to leave now, there are still some things I haven’t sorted out regarding my trip.” “Take advantage of the trip to find you some happiness.” Alhaji advised. “You can be rest assured that regardless of what happens, you still have me as a friend.”

                        Hakeem nodded.            

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

“So, what’s the plan? Are we just going to stroll in the sand?” Aisha asked as she stared at her feet.                        

Craig nodded. “I am holding your shoes, you shouldn’t mind.” He replied. “I set up a little dinner for us here.”

                                    “Oh! You should have told me earlier, I would have alerted the press, at least, something romantic to top their list.” She said painfully.

                        Craig swallowed. “Why don’t you appreciate the privacy of this dinner?” he asked as they walked towards the table.                                    

“Because it is awkward. There is actually nothing between you and I and you shouldn’t set up things like this if we are not trying to get the press’ attention.” She said as she took her seat.                         Craig nodded. “What if there could be something between us?”

                                    “There can never be, and you know it.” She replied smiling.

                        A waiter approached them and attended to them.

                        Craig poured her glass. “Bon appetite.”  

                       She smiled as she sipped the wine. “Thank you.”

                                    “So, when do I have to propose to you?” Craig asked.

                        She stopped as she stared at him. “Are we not rushing things? That would be unbelievable to my Dad.”

                                    “I don’t think so, we have managed to convince him, I think I should propose to you soon, so, we can get married and get divorced too.”

                        She dropped her glass as she stared at him.

            ++++****++++

                        A man approached Alhaji Ibrahim in a black suit. “Alhaji Ibrahim?”

                        Alhaji nodded. “Yes? Who are you?”

                                    “You are expecting me.” He replied.

                        Alhaji stared at him. “You are not Arabian.”

                        He nodded. “I know but I needed to see you, so I had to make up something.”                                     “I am calling security.” Alhaji said as he picked his phone.                                     “Don’t do it…at least, not yet.”

                        Alhaji dropped his phone. “What do you want?”

                  “My name is Daniel. I have information about your daughter’s boyfriend. Craig.”

Story by Tomi Adesina .All rights reserved.

Read Next Episode: All Fun and Games – Episode 10

All Fun and Games – Episode 8

Read Previous Episode: All Fun and Games – Episode 7

Aisha leaned against the door as she folded her arms, creating an imposing figure against the door with her yet petite frame. “Craig!” she called in her best feminine asset. “Craig!”

            Vicky stared at her carefully. “I can’t believe this.”

                        “I know you can’t. Do you want an autograph? Last chance.” Aisha said with a cynical smile.

            Vicky swallowed as she watched Craig approach from inside. He was topless and this sent ideas into her head.

            Craig took a deep breath as he saw Vicky. “Hey.” He said.

           Aisha turned as she stared at him and returned into the house. Craig pulled Vicky outside and shut the door as soon as he watched Aisha leave for the bedroom. “What is this, Vicky? What are you doing here?”
            “Craig…I…I love you.”

Craig swallowed. “And I don’t!”

          Vicky took a deep breath. “Craig, I know…I know it’s not every day that a lady summons courage to tell a man that she is in love with him and I swear it is not easy for me to bottle my feelings like they don’t exist when they do, but…but I just want you to know that I love you for who you are and would never stop loving you.”


Craig rubbed his forehead. “I…I don’t know what to say. I…I am with someone else.”

            “Her?” Craig nodded. “Yes. Her. Aisha. Her name is Aisha.”

            “Do you love her?” Vicky asked. “I mean, where did she spring out from? We only knew Aisha from the TV and spotlight, but, you and Aisha? I mean, was it coded and stuff? When did you guys fall in love? Craig blinked. “Look, my relationship with Aisha is very important to me and to her too. I can’t discuss our affair with you, but all I can tell you is that we have something.”

            “Tell me, Craig. Please.” Vicky said desperately. “Look, Craig, I have loved you ever since we have been friends and yes, I find it hard not to fight for it.” Craig took a deep breath. “Vicky, I thought we had discussed this before.”

            “I own my feelings, Craig.” He nodded. “Fine. I can’t deprive you of the right to be in love, but, this love won’t be reciprocated.”

            “Craig, I just want you to be aware of what I feel for you and I want you to know that I am not going to stop loving you.”

            “Vicky, you are a good woman. I am sure that there are men lined up to love you if you let them. You don’t have to tie yourself down to me. I am with someone else.” Vicky shook her head sadly. “Why did you choose her?”

            “I have no control over my heart, do I?” he asked. She stared at him. “Do you love her?” He swallowed. “Vicky…”

            “Just answer the question, Craig. Be honest with me, for once, please. Do you love her?”

          Craig stared at Vicky’s eyes. They were full of hurt and desperation. He didn’t know what else to say to her that would send her away from him. For him, he couldn’t give her love, he knew that. He had never loved anyone like himself. Feelings and emotions were for the weak. He could deal with casual sex but not commitments. Vicky seemed like commitment, Aisha was business. He didn’t need Vicky. Aisha was his pot of gold. He could mess around with that. And even if it meant him lying to a desperate woman, he would. Lying wouldn’t hurt him, after all, he already lied to a desperate father. Why couldn’t he lie to Vicky?
         
           He took a deep breath. “I am in love with Aisha. I have always been and we have had our relationship under wraps for a long time now, just to keep it out of the press’ prowling eyes. I am sorry if I have never told you about it. I really apologise for hurting you, Vicky. I love my girlfriend. I’d do anything for her. She loves me too. I can’t hurt her.”

           Vicky wiped a tear drop as it rolled down from her eyes. “Craig, I love you. I am sorry you love someone else.”
            “Vicky…”

           She tiptoed and pecked his cheek. “Bye. I would never show up in your life again.” She said as she walked away.
           
            Craig took a deep breath as he watched her walk away. He buried his head in his hand and returned into the house. Now he had to face the bigger venom.

            Aisha lay on the chaise lounge in the living room as she watched from the TV. Craig rubbed his palm against his trouser as he stared at her. “I can explain.”

           Aisha stared at him with a smile. “What? The TV program is nice, you should watch it. Should I get you some ice-cream?”
            “I…I am talking about what just happened.” He replied as he approached her.

          She shrugged. “I thought the scene was funny too, but you know how these actors can be, they can be very annoying.” She replied, feigning ignorance as she focused on the TV. “Are you sure you don’t want any Ice-cream?”
            “Aisha, I…I don’t love Vicky.” Craig said. Aisha stared at him. “Who is Vicky?”

            “Come on, Aisha. You know who Vicky is. She just left.” He replied as he squatted beside her. “Look, Vicky is…is just a lady who is in love with me, but I assure you I am not in love with her.”

             Aisha stared at him. “Craig, I don’t know what you are blabbing about. Here I am, trying to enjoy some TV and take a break from work and you are talking to me about love and Vicky. I don’t understand. I really want to enjoy this program. Would you let me?” she asked with a smile.
            “Damn!” Craig shouted and rose to his feet. “I am off to bed.” She smiled. “Have a nice night.” She said and focused on the TV. Craig kicked the chair angrily and left for the bedroom.

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

            “So you are telling me that Craig’s girlfriend showed up at your house last night?”

             Aisha nodded as she punched the elevator button to the top floor. “Exactly, Moira. That doesn’t worry me as much as I think my plans might be foiled if I keep getting ugly surprises like that. Who is next to visit? Hakeem?”


Moira smiled. “That won’t be cool, my friend.”

            “You know I actually think Craig’s bases are not as covered as they should be. Come to think of it, I picked this guy from the slum; people are going to wonder how his profile jumped this high in no time. I should have thought of this more before choosing that scumbag.”

             Moira shrugged. “It doesn’t matter. We would just have to come up with something. Like how he enjoyed frolicking with the needy and all. I’ll find something, don’t worry. I think what we need to do is to speed up the wedding plans, so you can get the inheritance, divorce him and get your life back on track. Maybe by then, you’d be in love with Hakeem.” Moira replied, snickering.


            “Very funny, Moira. Very funny.” Aisha replied as they stepped out to the main floor.  “How has living with Craig been?”

            Aisha stared at her as she pushed her office door open. “How is it supposed to be? We stay out of each other’s way as much as possible.”

                        “Nothing unites you both?” Moira asked, taking her seat with a smile.

            Aisha raised an eyebrow. “Out with it, you idiot. What are you insinuating?”

            Moira shrugged. “Nothing that hasn’t been heard before. I am just saying that, how is that you both haven’t found a common ground to co-exist in that house?” She asked, grinning.

                        “Look, if what you are trying to say is what I think, NO. I have respect for myself, unlike you.”

            Moira hissed. “I respect myself too. But I am just saying. You guys can be friends with benefits.” “Moira, are you alright? What has come over you?” Aisha asked as she turned on her laptop. “Fact check, I am Aisha Bello. I don’t have time for frivolities, so the next time you forget who you are and start imagining foolish things, always remember who I am and keep me out of your silly thoughts.” She replied.

                    Moira grinned.

            “What? Wipe that smirk off your face.” Aisha ordered.

            Moira smiled. “I won’t. And you know why? It means in that holy heart of yours, you have actually given dirty thoughts a chance. Why would you even think that I was thinking that?”


            “It’s logic. Common sense, Moira. That’s something I have too.” Moira nodded. “Okay.”  

           “Good. Now, we must get back to work. Alhaji won’t be here today and I don’t know why, but he said for a few days, he’ll also be away. But while he is away, we have some deals to shut down and I am talking big money here.” Aisha started. Moira smiled. “You love making money, don’t you?” Aisha nodded in agreement. “Yes, I do. It’s all I live for.”

            “Do you know why your father won’t be here today?” Aisha shrugged. “I don’t know and I don’t think I really want to know.”

            “That’s because you have decided to ignore this day. It’s been many years, Aisha.” Aisha stared at her. “I don’t remember what today is and I don’t need you to remind me.”

            Moira took a deep breath. “I’ll be going over there by lunch. If you change your mind, we can go together. It won’t hurt so much.”
            “Please leave, Moira. I have to work.” Moira nodded and walked out. Tears rolled down Aisha’s eyes as she remembered her mother.

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

            “How did Vicky get your address?” Daniel asked. Craig stared at him. “Don’t give me that, I can swear on anything that you gave it to her.”

            “No, bro. I don’t break bro codes.”

            “What code? How did she know my house?”

            “Aisha’s house, you mean?” Bolu asked, smiling. Craig shot at him. “Whatever, Man.”             “But seriously, I’d give anything to see Aisha’s expression when she met Vicky.” Bolu said smiling. Craig stared at him. “Did you give Vicky my address, Bolu?” Bolu laughed. “You know I can’t do that, brother.”

            “What I know is that Vicky didn’t just show up at my house. One of you gave her the address and I don’t think it’s you, Bolu. I know it is you, Daniel.”

              Daniel smiled. “What do I have to gain by pushing her closer to you? I love her too, remember?”
            “Exactly. Because you love like a dumb man, you think that by sending her my way, she would realise and then start to fall for you. I have news for you, she doesn’t love you, she loves me.” Daniel swallowed. “Shame. You don’t deserve her love.”

            “Neither do you. You are a selfish bastard, Daniel.” Bolu stepped in. “Easy, boys! Craig, you can’t start accusing Daniel without proof.”

            “Oh, let him continue. You’ll come back to apologise, Craig. I know it.” Daniel replied.             “Are you saying he didn’t give her my address? Who did?” Craig shouted.

            Bolu took a deep breath. “We both know that Vicky is madly in love with you, a woman in love can do anything for her man. Maybe she tailed you or something, but Daniel has returned to us, he won’t betray you, bro. We are like family, right?”


            “I won’t betray you, bro.” Daniel said with a smile. “I am better than that.” Craig swallowed. “I don’t believe him.”

            “I know you don’t trust me too much, Craig. But even though I love her and she doesn’t love me, I won’t use that as an avenue to destroy you.” Daniel replied.

            Bolu took a deep breath. “Believe him, Craig. We have been brothers for a very long time, don’t let a woman tear us apart.”


            “This is a woman’s love we are talking about. I might not love her, but I appreciate the fact that someone loves me. I can’t love her back, but I respect her and I won’t go about taunting her for it. I advise you respect her, Daniel. Be careful with what you tell her. You don’t have to hurt her.” Craig said and grabbed his car key.

            “Where are you going? You just got here.” Bolu said. Craig shrugged. “I am going back to work. I have to be there, at least.” He replied and walked away. Bolu stared at Daniel. “Why did you tell Vicky?”

            “Why did you defend me if you thought I told her?” Daniel asked. Bolu took a deep breath. “I…I thought that our friendship meant something to you, bro.”

            “It does, Bolu. I didn’t tell her anything. Maybe she tailed him just like you said.” Bolu smiled. “Do you even believe that?”

            “I am innocent. Whatever is happening to Craig is thanks to his greed. He can’t eat his cake and have it. Aisha is going to give him something he has never had. The Spotlight.”

            “And she is taking away from him the opportunity to learn to love Vicky back.” Daniel swallowed. “Learn to Love?”

            “I still believe Craig can like Vicky more. Craig is a good guy.” Daniel clenched his teeth. “She is mine.”

            “No. She’s not yours. Get over yourself.” Bolu replied. “I am going back to work.” He added and walked away.

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

            “Mrs. Bello, how are you?” Moira asked as she knelt before Aisha’s mother’s grave. “It’s been years. Aisha still won’t come to visit. I know I haven’t been a right friend by helping Aisha with getting her inheritance by finding a man for her, but Aisha is sad and drunk with power. This is the only thing that is really helping her to interact with someone else, I know I might be wrong with this decision, but, I actually believe that Aisha might find herself in the process. Ma’am, she still plays your favorite tune on the piano but she won’t be playing the piano for a while, she’s moved in with the new guy and she decided not to take it there.

She still gives to the orphanages, she hasn’t lost her value. The only thing she hasn’t found is love, so she decided to play games. It might be fun for a while, but I think it might hurt too. I would be here for her no matter what happens. I miss you, you are also my mother. We would close up major deals in the coming days and Aisha would make more money. Aisha enjoys viewing the world from the window like we used to do as little girls when we did visit.” Moira paused to wipe a tear drop. “Aisha is in the office distracting her as usual from thoughts of today, but, I know she would eventually be able to come here one day.” Moira took a deep breath as rose to her feet. “We miss you, ma.”

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

            “Ma’am, we have been here for five hours and have closed six deals already. Let’s give it a break.” An officer suggested. Aisha stared at them. “Oh really? We have?” He nodded. “Ms. Bello, this is nine pm already. I think we should go home.”

            “I don’t think so, I think I want to close all deals today. I think we should make all the money we can now. The day is still young, it’s just 9pm.”

              Moira stared at them and then back at Aisha. “Aisha, I think we can let them go. We can finish it up.”
            “Challenging my authority?” Aisha asked. Moira stared at her. “Aisha, please.” Aisha stared at the others. “Get out.” The others gathered their documents and walked out.

            “It’s my money, you know.” Aisha said as she took a seat. Moira nodded as she approached her. “Let’s go home. You are spent.”

            “I am not. I am not leaving here until I tie up all the deals.” Moira took a deep breath. “Don’t do this today, Aisha.” Aisha buried her head in her palms. “I just want to get this work done.”

            “You don’t have to get it done today. Tomorrow is another day.” Aisha shook her head. “Tomorrow never comes. My mom didn’t live to see tomorrow.” Moira swallowed. “I know. God knows best.”

            “Bye, Moira.” Aisha said as she picked up her phone.

            “Stay with me tonight. You are not doing fine.” Aisha smiled. “I can handle it.” She replied and walked out.

             Moira watched her friend leave the office. Aisha couldn’t handle many things, she only tried to do it. It did work well for her most times, and when her world came crashing down, you almost could not recognise Aisha. Today seemed like one of those days, Moira hoped for her friend’s sake that it would not get worse at night.

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

            “Hey!” Craig said as soon as Aisha walked into the house. Aisha stared at him. “Hi.” She replied.             “So, I…I was thinking that we could talk about this business today.” Craig started.

            She stared at him. “What is there to talk about? Are you broke? I’ll reimburse your credit card tomorrow.” She said, stepping away from him.


            “Was it always this easy for you?” Craig asked. She stopped and stared at him. “Excuse me?”             “Do you actually buy everybody?” She dropped her handbag on the chair and folded her arms. “I don’t understand.”

            “I’ll reimburse your credit card. That’s all. No discussions, no relations. You don’t even care if I hold a party in your house in your absence? You don’t care if I sleep with someone?” Aisha shrugged. “Why should I care? I just need you to help me get something, that’s all.”

            “Where did the good girl go?” Aisha looked around. “Are you talking to me?” He nodded. “Yes. I mean, you…you are more than this, Aisha.”

            “Shut up!” she replied and picked up her bag.

              He swallowed. “I won’t. Why are you bent on making everyone see this monster? You…you don’t have to like me to live with me. But, as long as we are living together, we can tolerate each other.”


            “I am tolerating you, right now.” She replied. He nodded. “Good. I want us to talk. I want us to talk about yesterday.”

            “Is this about yesterday? The entire dumb sermon was about yesterday?” she asked.             “Look, Aisha, Vicky is a woman who loves me.”

              Aisha smiled. “Good for you. When our deal is over, you can go back to her. Today is not a good day to have an argument with you. Please, let me be.”
            “Is there ever a good day with you?” he asked. “Aisha, you can’t go on like this. When you hurt, spit it out. When you are happy, let everyone know. This is not life.” Aisha stared at him with her mouth agape. “What do you care?”

            “I don’t have to care about you, but I do. You are human; we live in the same house. Just look at your face, it is obvious. You have been crying. What is it about? Tell me. Let me help.”

             She scoffed. “Now you want to help me? Look, your job here is simple, we step out together, and you smile at the camera. Shutter left…Shutter right…Click. The press has us in the magazine; we go home, case closed. There is nothing else, try not to get too close to me. You are pissing me off.”
            “You piss me off too. But, I won’t give up on you. You need saving. I’ll help you.”

             Aisha stared at him. “You know someone who needed saving?” she shouted. “My mother!” she screamed. “There was no one that day, I couldn’t save her, and Moira couldn’t. The driver couldn’t. They killed her as though she didn’t matter. That was someone who needed saving. You want to save someone, get me back my mother.” She shouted. “Don’t ever talk to me about saving me, I am fine.” She said as she wiped teardrops from her eyes.  
            “Aisha…” Craig said as he took a deep breath. “I am sorry.”

             She nodded. “It’s normal to be sorry. It is the typical pitiful state of the mind. My father was sorry. The cops were sorry. Moira was sorry. Even my dead Mom would have been sorry. I am sorry too. So, it is okay if you are sorry. Can I go in peace now?”
            “Aisha…” Craig said as he stood before her. “It’s okay to cry, you don’t have to fight it.” She swallowed.             “Look, I know it hurts, but, when you should cry, you should cry. Just cry, breathe, let it go. Please…” he said as he stared at her eyes. “You don’t have to go through it alone, just let it go, Aisha.”

             Tears began to stream down her face. The more she fought back, the more her weak eyes betrayed her. The tears flowed freely and she crashed into Craig’s arms in tears.

Story by Tomi Adesina .All rights reserved.

Read Next Episode: All Fun and Games – Episode 9

All Fun and Games – Episode 7

Read Previous Episode: All Fun and Games – Episode 6

Aisha stared at her wristwatch as another hour had passed since she sent Craig a message to meet her at the restaurant. She dialled his number for the third time. “Where could this guy be?” she thought aloud. “Or is he bailing on me?” she thought. It’s a good thing she had decided to wait in the VIP room, waiting that long seemed really embarrassing and with Val’s day lurking, the press wouldn’t mind smearing her name by saying things like: ‘Desperate Spinster, Aisha Bello, looks for attention in Lagos Restaurant.’ She wasn’t willing to take that chance so she decided to wait in the VIP room. She only hoped Craig won’t keep her any longer.

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

Craig stared at his phone as it rang again. He took a deep breath and ignored the call. Alhaji’s visit had left him confused. How could he love a woman that didn’t need love? How could he fool a father that needed help? Thoughts raced through his mind as he tried to find answers to the questions lingering in his heart. Aisha had sent him a message asking him to meet her but he just couldn’t bring himself to go and see her after what had happened with her father. Everything seemed really confusing at the moment.

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

A man in black approached Alhaji Ibrahim. His heart raced fast as he was about to find out the import of his action. If going over to Craig to do what a real father would have done was a mistake, he’d figure out soon. “Everything is in here, Alhaji.” The man said as he placed an envelope before Alhaji Ibrahim.             Alhaji swallowed. “Is he worth it?”

            The man blinked. “I’d rather you see for yourself.”

                        “I can take it, it is bad enough that I am having a man investigated without a just cause. Just let me know if I am right about my suspicions?”

            The man took his seat opposite Alhaji. “From our investigations on Craig, he is really clean.” Alhaji smiled. “Thank you, Kola. Thank you.” Kola nodded with a smile.

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

Aisha’s phone beeped and a message popped up. “It’s done. You owe me big time – Kola.”

            She took a deep breath as she wondered why Craig had not shown up yet. This was beginning to worry her. She stared at her wristwatch and then finished her drink.

            Craig approached her. “Aisha, I am sorry.”

                        “Is this one of your many talents? Standing me up?” she queered as she folded her arms.             He took his seat. “You may not believe it but I am really sorry about it. I promise you, this won’t happen again.” “It better not, Craig.” She replied as she took a deep breath. “Look, Craig, I think we have to be really careful, my father would want to see a great deal of seriousness in this relationship and I am in no mood to be the loser here, so I think we have to-“

                        “-Move in with me.” Craig cut in.

            Aisha stared at him and relaxed in her seat. “Move in with you?” she asked with an eyebrow raised. She smiled. “You have some nerve, don’t you?”

       He wiped his forehead. “I know it sounds crazy and not like what we would want. In fact, I doubt if the both of us can coexist under the same roof, but I just feel that for this thing that we want to do to be real and be done quickly, we have to take desperate measures.”

                        “You are right. Moving in with you is really desperate.” She replied. He nodded. “Look, the house would be clean if that is what you are scared of.” He said staring at her. Aisha remained silent. “That is what you are scared of, right?” he asked, raising an eyebrow. “Oh come on, Aisha. I am not going to force you to go to bed with me.” He said through clenched teeth. “That would be your choice to make in the end.”

            “Just shut up, Craig.” Aisha replied. She ran her finger through her hair. “I think I should sleep over it. Even though this is a necessity, we still have to ensure that we are making the right decision.” She replied. Craig nodded. “Okay, take your time. Should I send a cab over to pick you?” he asked with a smile.

            “Don’t start assuming roles that are not yours, Craig.” She replied as she clutched her bag to her waist. “I’ll call you in the morning.” He smiled faintly. “I’ll have the house set up properly for you.” She scoffed and walked out.

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

“Cheers to my destruction.” Craig said as he raised his glass.

            Daniel stared at Bolu. “Is he actually expecting us to reply?”

            Bolu shrugged. “Look, Craig, it’s not over for you…at least not yet.”

            Craig smiled. “Exactly. I am scared of Alhaji to be honest.”

                        “You don’t have to be scared of him, Craig.” Daniel replied. “You are the master when it comes to games like this. You shouldn’t get emotionally roped in. Remember, this is business.”

            Craig stared at Daniel. “You didn’t see the man’s eyes when he came over to my place. He is a father who wants the best for his child. It is unfortunate that she is that type of woman.”

                        “And that you are who you are.” Bolu chipped in.

            Craig stared at him. “What is that supposed to mean?” “Man, you don’t have to bother about what the old man says. He is only looking for his daughter’s interest, but she doesn’t need it. All you need to do is stay focused and ensure that in the end you are the one who comes out tops.” Daniel replied.

            Craig stared at him carefully. “I don’t get it. Some hours without our company and you are already so cold, Daniel? Bolu and I should take the credit for keeping you in check all this while.”             Daniel smiled. “I guess I was just being realistic. No man should let any lady play him.”                         “Aisha is not playing me. We have a goal.” Craig replied with a smile.

            Bolu cleared his throat. “Guy, what about the plan to clear her cash?” He asked laughing.             Daniel gasped as he laughed. “Bad guy! You are one step ahead.”

            Craig shot at Bolu. “Must you talk?”

                        “Guy, how far nau? We are cool, right?” Daniel asked. “I no be busy body nau”            Craig nodded. “I haven’t said that is who you are, but, I didn’t expect him to be so loquacious.”  

                       “Na so! All join! So, today na our last day for here, abi?” Daniel asked as he finished his drink. “So, do we a need a schedule to visit you now that Aisha would be moving in?”

            Craig stared at Bolu. “Why is this guy being unnecessarily annoying? I thought you said that he wanted to make amends.”

              Daniel relaxed in his seat. “I am just trying to be funny here.”

                        “Well, you have so much work to do on your sense of humour.” Craig replied and walked away.

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

                        “Do you have to pack everything away from here?” Moira asked as she watched Aisha pack her boxes.

            Aisha stared at her. “You don’t want me coming back here every time I need my underwear, do you?” Moira nodded. “Oh well…you are right, but, I think you are packing as though you were moving out of here finally so as to be his wife. Anyway, since you guys will still have to be married for a while, you can use some tutorials on how to tolerate one another.”

            “Moira, there is only one thing that bothers me. Why did Craig ask me to move in with him?” Aisha asked as she dropped took a seat. Moira smiled as she focused on her phone. “I wonder why we are visiting a topic that we should have started with. You came home all excited moving out that you have not even stopped to wonder why he wants you to move in with him. Isn’t it strange?” Aisha stared at her. “Why should it be strange? I was going to ask him the same.”

            “But he asked you first. And that, my friend, is what should bother you.” Moira replied with more seriousness. Aisha swallowed. “Are you saying he has ulterior motives?” Moira nodded in agreement. “Exactly! He must have a hidden reason why he wants you to move in.”

            “What if he asked because he knows that it is one of the logical things and I might feel embarrassed to ask him about it?” Aisha asked. Moira nodded in agreement. “You might be right about that, but what if I am right too?” Aisha relaxed in her seat. “Moira, we can’t be thinking about all the bad things now. There is a lot to be done and we have to be really optimistic.”

            “Optimism is good, but caution is also very important.” Moira replied.

            “Well, I am going there tomorrow. Also, I have to prepare for this weekend’s tennis game.” Moira smiled. “Good thing it falls on Val’s day.”

            “What makes it a good thing?” Moira grinned. “That would be your own Val’s day special and it would really seem nice.”

            “What if Craig has a girlfriend?” Aisha asked. Moira nods. “True…what if he has a girlfriend? He’ll be spending all your money on her.” Aisha stared at Moira. “I don’t care.  As long as he keeps his sheets tidy and out of the public view, we are good.”

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

            “Craig, it is good to see you.” Alhaji Ibrahim said as Craig approached with Aisha. He exchanged handshakes with Craig and then hugged his daughter. “Little one.” Aisha stared at her father with a smile. “Come on, Dad. I am not a little girl anymore.”

            “You are still my little girl.” He replied. “Happy Valentine’s day, Aisha.” He said as he handed her a small tiffany box. Aisha stared at the box. “You still give me gifts every year, Dad. Thank you.” She said and kept his gift in her bag. “I got you something too, Dad.” She said as she handed him a gift pack. “I know you’ll love it.” He smiled. “Thank you.” He said. Alhaji stared at Craig who seemed a bit lost and was looking at the members of the club. “Hey Craig, you should go and mingle. I’ll show you around.”

            “No!” Aisha protested as she grabbed Craig’s hand. “We are going over to the tennis court.” She said hastily. Alhaji Ibrahim nodded. “Okay. Enjoy.” He said and walked away.

            “Relax, Aisha. Your father might begin to suspect with your attitude.” She rolled her eyes. “Do you know what would have happened if my Dad had taken you to meet his friends? You’d have to tell them about your Dubai escapades, your budding company, your short term and long term goals? And I tell you, believe me when I say those men would ask you questions, drill you in and out till there is nothing left in you or in that lying skull of yours and then, you would really wish that I didn’t choose you.”

            “I am very convincing, Aisha.” He replied as they started to approach the tennis court. She nodded. “I know you are, but sometimes, it is never good enough. Your trail will always be found.”

            “Happy Valentine’s Day, Aisha.” Craig said. She shrugged. “Is there really something to celebrate on this day?” she asked as they approached the change room. He smiled. “Love? Everyone is doing that.”

            “We are not everyone, and remember what we have is business. So, we don’t have to bother what others are caring about.” Craig grinned as he saw some men with PRESS tags approach them. “Are you so sure?” he asked smiling in Aisha’s direction. She took a deep breath as they smiled at the Press Officials.

            “Happy Valentine’s day to you both.” One of the press men greeted. Aisha and Craig smiled and echoed a “Thank you” as though they had rehearsed it. Craig smiled at Aisha and then back at the Press.

            “Ms. Aisha, We don’t see Ms. Moira today with you. Is this the gentleman in your life that you have been hiding from the world? ” The Press Officer asked. Aisha stared at Craig and then back at the Pressmen. “Like I have always said, my personal life stays personal. When the need arises, I will make an official announcement.” Craig smiled and placed his hand behind Aisha. “Please, excuse us.”             “By now, I am sure those rats have a picture of us and are thinking of how best they can come up with a headline for their magazine.” Aisha said as she entered the change room. Craig folded his arms as he leaned against the wall. “As expected.”

            “Why were they allowed in here in the first place? This is not just any place. It’s exquisite.” Craig nodded. “It is Valentine’s day. This is a good time to get good gist and I am sure they have paid good money for it. Besides, it’s not like you weren’t expecting to see them here.” He said as he took off his shirt.

            “Heyyy!!! What are you doing?” Aisha asked. He stared at her. “Getting a change of clothes into my sportswear.”   

          “In case you haven’t noticed, this is the female section and just because you aren’t seeing any lady here except me doesn’t mean that the front door doesn’t bear LADIES ONLY.” He took a deep breath. “Fine! Where is the Male section?”

            “Down the hall.” She replied. “Meet me out front in ten minutes.” He nodded and walked out with his bag. He located the Male section and walked into the room.

            “Hey!” Craig stared at who had called him and his face seemed familiar, just that he couldn’t place the face. The guy approached Craig. “I am Hakeem. We met at Alhaji Bello’s.” Craig stared at him. “Oh…how are you?” Hakeem ignored him. “So I am guessing Aisha is here?” Craig nodded in agreement. “Yes, she is.”

            “So, how did you guys meet? I have never known you before.” Hakeem asked sternly. Craig smiled. “If you want to know about me and Aisha, why not ask her?”

            “Because I think you are a man and you should be able to speak for yourself.” Hakeem retorted. Craig rubbed his chin. “That’s the point. I think you should be a man and not be interested in other people’s affairs.”

            “Don’t get me wrong. Aisha and I have been friends since we were kids and we know all the friends in our circles, but we never knew you and your name doesn’t sound like ours.” Hakeem replied. Craig nodded. “There are a lot of things you don’t know about Aisha then or would you rather I bear Mohammed?”

            “I have nothing against your religion. Who is your father?” he asked. Craig shook his head pitifully and started to change into his clothes. “I am my own man, Hakeem.”

            “I am not against who you are, I just want to know about you.” Craig stared hard at him. “Why are you attacking me?”

            “I love Aisha. You just came out of the blues and stole her from me.” Hakeem protested. Craig grabbed his racket. “She is my woman now. What would you do about it?”

            “I can’t do anything about it but I…I just want to love her.” Hakeem said. Craig swallowed. “Do you realize that you are talking to her man? You can love her silently. Don’t tell me about it.” He replied. Hakeem nodded as he took a breath. “I am sorry, it was rude of me.” He said, turning away.             “It’s okay. You want to play tennis?”

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

            “Happy Valentine’s Day, Vicky.” Daniel said, holding out a Rose flower. Vicky took off her earphones and stared at him. “You don’t give up, do you?” He held the flower out at her. “It’s just Valentine. Please accept it.” She nodded and collected the flower.

            “So, would you go out with me tonight? I got two tickets to see this new movie.” Daniel said as he walked by her side. She shook her head with a smile. “I just knew you were up to no good with the early morning flower and disturbing my morning exercise.”

            “I love to keep fit too. Please…Could you please just go with me to the movies tonight?” he asked. She shook her in disagreement. “I am sorry, but I have plans. I am hanging out with my girls tonight.”

            “Vicky, I just think you should really give me a chance. I really do love you.” Daniel said. She took a deep breath. “I understand that you love me, but you have to also understand that I don’t love you.”

            “And you love Craig? Look, for the record, Craig doesn’t love you. He is spending today with Aisha Bello. That is the woman that he is in a relationship with, that’s the woman he will marry. That’s the woman that he wants.” Daniel said and took a deep breath. “Please Vicky, stop punishing yourself. As we speak, Craig and Aisha are in one of the best facilities in the country, playing together, and you are here, drowning for him. It’s not fair on you.” Vicky nodded. “Yes, I love him. Yes, I know he doesn’t love me. But, I don’t, I won’t and I can never love you. Are we clear?”

            “And why is that? I am the one who is trying to get you out of your misery, I am trying to make you see reasons, why is it so hard?” Daniel asked. She shrugged. “You are very selfish. You are doing everything for your own good, and for the record, stop spreading lies about Craig and that woman, it’s getting pretty lame.” She replied and started to walk away.

            “What if I give you evidence?” Vicky stopped and stared at him.

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

Craig held his racket in one hand and used his towel to wipe off the sweat on his face. “Mighty Serves, Hakeem.” Hakeem smiled. “I am still a learner. Your strokes are massive, bro.” BRO??? AISHA’S HEAD SPUN. She stared at Craig and Hakeem as they spoke about the game. “Hey!!! I played that game too. Nothing to say about my strokes?” Hakeem stared at her. “I thought they were amazing.”             “Weak.” Craig replied. Aisha raised an eyebrow. “Weak? I thought I did well.”

            “I see you like being hyped out of talent. Wait till you allow the little thing you think you have in you grow before you think you did close to well.” Hakeem stared at Craig. “Very funny, bro.”             “No. It wasn’t meant to be.” Craig replied. Aisha swallowed. “Okay guys, break it up.”

            “That’s the problem with you females; does it look like we are having a go at each other?” Hakeem smiled. “Yeah, we are good.” Aisha stared at them. “I think we should go and have something to eat.”

                        “I can’t join you guys.” Hakeem replied. Craig stared at him. “Why not? It’s just food – Good for the body.” Hakeem smiled faintly. “I know. It’s just that there are many things to be done.” He replied. Aisha nodded. “Okay. See you around.” Hakeem smiled and walked away. Aisha shot at Craig. “What were you doing?”

            “I don’t understand.” Craig replied. “I was just making a conversation.” She scoffed. “Some conversation that is! You know how Hakeem feels about me, you don’t have to make him feel so horrible.” Craig smiled. “I am shocked.”

            “Why?” He shrugged. “For the first time in your life, it seems like you actually care about another person’s well-being other than yourself. That’s impeccable. It’s a good day in history.”             “Watch your words, Craig.” She replied and picked up her towel. “We are leaving. Ensure you smile as we walk out.” He nodded. “So, we are just to keep smiling or are there hidden cameras?”

            “You know what I mean.” She replied. He shrugged. “So, you just packed into my house yesterday and you decided not to sleep over, why?”

            “That’s my business, isn’t it?” she retorted. He nodded in agreement. “I know that it is your call, but, the house looked brand new, didn’t it? I had it well scrubbed just for you.”

            “We’ll see about that.” She said and walked away. Craig smiled.

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

            “Good evening, Hakeem. What do you want here?” Alhaji Bello asked as Hakeem walked into the living room. Hakeem bowed. “Good evening, Alhaji. It’s about Aisha.”

            “What about her?” Alhaji asked. Hakeem took a deep breath. “I don’t trust that guy that she is with. I want to have him investigated.”

            “Investigated?” Hakeem nodded. “Yes sir. I just want your support so that I won’t be offending you.”

            “Well, you have offended me already.” Hakeem sighed. “Alhaji, it’s…it’s just that I don’t like him.” Alhaji nodded. “I understand how you feel, Hakeem. But Aisha chose him and we have to respect her wishes. He is the man that she wants to be with, we can’t do anything about it. I want my daughter to be happy.”

            “I don’t think he’ll make her happy. He was really rude to her today at the tennis court. It got me upset and what worried me more was Aisha’s silence. She didn’t react as she would do normally.” Alhaji stared at him. “Rude? What do you mean by rude?”

            “I thought his tenses and words were not appropriate for Aisha.” Hakeem replied. Alhaji relaxed in his seat. “Maybe Aisha is learning the art of submission. People become submissive when they are in love.” Hakeem blinked. “Sir…”

            “Hakeem, I know how you feel about Aisha, but, I can’t allow you get in the way of my daughter’s happiness.” Hakeem swallowed. “I love her.”

            “She loves someone else and he loves her too. Let them be, please.” Hakeem buried his head in his hand.             “I am going to advise you against investigating Craig. I won’t take it easy with you if you defy me.”

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

Aisha focused on her laptop as she worked. Her phone rang and she smiled at seeing ‘MOIRA’ on the Caller ID. “Hey babe.”

            “Aisha…when are you coming home?” Moira sulked on the other end of the line. Aisha smiled. “Missing me so soon?”

            “Just come home. This place is really boring without you.” Aisha smiled. “I thought I was boring.”

            “Oh well. Not exactly. You are boring in a good way.” Aisha nodded. “Good to hear you speaking highly of me in my absence. A prophet is never respected in his hometown.” Moira laughed hard. “Have you been reading the Bible? Because I know you don’t even know what the Quran looks like.”

            “Cut me some slack. I try with these things. Anyway, it is almost midnight, why are you calling? You should be asleep by now.” Aisha asked.

            “I am bored. I think I miss you. If you don’t come for me, I am coming over there right now.” Aisha stared at Craig as he dropped a mug beside her. “Moira, I am gonna have to call you back.” She said and hung up. “What is this?” she asked looking at the mug. He smiled. “Black Coffee. Low fat. I know you’ll like that.” She fetched her coffee cup from behind her laptop. “I got my bases covered. Thank you.” She replied as she sipped some of the coffee.

            “It’s late. You should go to bed.” Craig advised. She shrugged. “I have to make money. That’s the only way we can sustain this façade of a relationship. You are broke, remember?” He nodded and handed her a friendship bracelet from his pocket. “Here, Happy Valentine’s day.” Aisha laughed. “What is this? You could have just gotten me good jewellery if you wanted to play Mr. Perfect so bad. After all, it is my money.”

            “No. It is not your money.” He replied. “I got you this from my first earned salary.” Aisha swallowed as she stared at him. “Do you have a girlfriend? Or someone you kick it with?” Craig smiled. “Of course not. I am single.”

            “That’s good.” He stared at her. “Why is it good?”

            “I don’t enjoy surprises. I won’t want any tiger tearing at me when I go to make my hair or something.” She replied as she focused on the laptop.

            “Is that all?” Craig asked, staring at the bracelet. She nodded, “Of course, do you think I care if you love someone. You just have to play the part I hired you for and that doesn’t include buying me gifts from your first salary to impress me. I am not impressed.” He nodded and placed the bracelet beside her. “I think you should have it anyway. I am going to bed.”

            “You don’t have to tell me. I don’t care.” She replied as she continued to type. Craig took a deep breath and returned inside the house. Aisha stared at him as he walked away and focused on her system. The doorbell chimed shortly. “Damn! Moira came!” Aisha thought aloud as she sprang to her feet. “That girl is such a pain.” She added as she dragged herself to the door. Aisha stared at her visitor as she opened the door.

            “So it is true?” Aisha blinked. “Excuse me? Who are you?”

            “My name is Vicky. Where is Craig?”

Story by Tomi Adesina .All rights reserved.

Read Next Episode: All Fun and Games – Episode 8