Alexander didn’t come back to the meeting. I wished I could be with him but I knew he would be neck deep in Jay-Jay’s mess, I found solace in the fact that I would be seeing him tonight. Besides, it was time to make myself useful, I wanted to prove I wasn’t just some Ashawo with a powerful boyfriend. I was pretty sure a lot of Alexander’s employees already saw me that way, but we both knew better.
I also knew what I looked like; a gold-digger on the hunt for the ultimate Sugar daddy. I wanted to prove myself and show the Regal world that I wasn’t just a piece ass. There was more to it than just proving myself to strangers, I wanted to prove my intellect to Alexander, too, I realized. My intellect, after all was what I considered the very best of myself, until recently, at least. Our relationship had begun with pure lust but had evolved into something deeper.
Sure, we’d spent most of the two months we’d known each other immersed in the throes of orgasmic ecstasy, but in between orgasms and foreplay and all kinds of kink, in the quieter moments when the fire ebbed long enough for us to talk, our conversations were some of the most emotional and intellectual I have ever had. Alexander was well-read and academic like I was and he got me in a way that no one else ever had and I knew he felt the same way.
Still I wanted for his sake and my own to shine in this new arena. I knew I had it in me.
As Alexander had requested – or more accurately, ordered – Halimah Nasiru led me through the maze of offices towards the Fashion Department, she seemed intrigued by me, but I was already used to the scrutiny of Alexander’s staff. It was only natural that they would be curious about their boss’s new fiancee, especially since I would be working in the same environment as them.
And I couldn’t believe how brazen his delivery had been: basically, telling all of them that I had free reign over the place and work wherever I chose, that they could accept that or hand in their resignations, just like that. but that was his style; direct as hell. And sexy as all hell, God, the way he took control of the room, so swarthy and domineering. I missed him.
We walked past the department I knew I would not see a lot of. There was one executive who I wouldn’t be working one-on-one with, now or ever. Which was fine by me as Political affairs was not really my primary interest. I’d recognized the guy vaguely from the night of the Pool game, which to be honest was a total blur.
God, I’d been horny. Insanely so. I’d hardly noticed him and the way his hand and his mouth had completely blown my mind. I wished he could do it again. Now. But here we were, back in reality, if this could be called reality, that is. These plush offices and this dream job, not to mention the evening plans, just the thought brought a light heat to my skin.
“Alexander says you have some experience in publishing” Halimah said
“Do you have any experience in fashion?” I’d noticed some of his staff called him Alexander and others Mr. Gold, in such a country where everyone liked to command respect? I found this very odd – I wondered why she was on a first name basis with the boss, she said his name like they knew each other well.
I didn’t feel jealous – Halimah didn’t really seem his type – but I was curious. There was far too much about Alexander I still didn’t know.
“Not really” I said
“I’ve always been interested in fashion, but…
” I could hardly tell her the real reasons. It wasn’t the sort of information you could breezily chat about. Actually, Halimah, I grew up destitute. For most of my childhood, I was lucky to get a new outfit a year. I wore my clothes until they became threadbare. I learned to sew so I could stitch a length of old denim to my jeans so that the few friends I had wouldn’t laugh at how short my jeans were.
I would wear my uniforms till the teachers started to complain, even in a public school like Aguda Comprehensive Girls College in Surulere.
Would you believe I found those jeans hanging out of someone’s dustbin in front of their house? Crazy right? And so, once I could afford to buy my own clothes when I did odd jobs while in school I wore unflattering, baggy clothes intentionally. I know right?
And a pair of ugly glasses I bought on the road for one thousand naira. My vision is actually pretty good! I didn’t wear them because I needed to, I wore them so men wouldn’t look at me, can you even believe that? because… well, Halimah, because of the way my mother’s boyfriend used to look at me. More than look at me, in fact. Much, much more.
“–but it’s really only recently since I graduated that I’ve had the time to dedicate to it. I’ve spent most of my time over the past few years studying, you know how Naija is now, especially in a school like U.I. but I guess it wasn’t as bad when I got that scholarship abroad.” Halimah eyed me, taking in my outfit with expert appraisal.
Not critically, but more with an air of interest. Two months ago, I might have felt intimidated by someone like Halimah Nasiru, but not now. The clothes I wore now were far more expensive than even hers and my jewellery was in a class that she could only aspire to. No, now that Alexander was in charge of my wardrobe, my bank account and my satisfaction on every imaginable level, I had absolutely nothing to fear from anyone.
Halimah led me into her corner office, which was sparsely decorated save for one gigantic white desk covered in artfully-strewn photographs, magazines and paper, and several racks laden with colourful, cutting edge materials – lace, chiffon, silk, brocade, duchess and so on. As we entered her office, Halimah managed to splice through my awe with some few razor-sharp comments. As soon as she spoke, I got the feeling she’d been holding on to it, waiting to get me thoroughly alone to really delve into the topic she clearly considered was juicy as hell.
Her voice was friendly but edged with something else.
“You know, I’m a little surprised by the news of Alexander’s engagement to you, if you don’t mind me saying” she said and it was the first time I noticed a hint of a hausa accent.
“We all thought he was on the verge of proposing to someone else” a cool wash of … something maybe jealousy, iced through my veins. Alexander had never mentioned a serious girlfriend, he always causally talked about flings here and there. Halimah searched my face before continuing.
“Oh, yes. He’s been dating her for quite a while. Or he had been dating her, I guess I should say. For about a year and a half. I’m sure it was pretty exclusive, at least it was on her part and they were always in celeb magazines and all. She’s a friend of mine, and, well, I can tell you she’s in a bit of a state about it all since he called a month ago and broke it off.
Said he’d met someone else and was done with her lies – that would be you, I’m assuming and just like that he was gone” She punctuated with a dramatic splay of her hands.
“He’s talked to her in stolen moments a number of times still but he won’t agree to see her”
“Oh” was all I could say, all those phone calls he’d ignored. I thought they were mostly from JayJay or other related work stuff. Apparently not. I didn’t like the thought of him doing that, just leaving her like that, if they had been so serious. It didn’t seem like what Alexander would do but I knew why of course. I knew how powerful our attraction had been, like a wrecking ball of lust and emotion, a tsunami of passion that had demanded total, immediate devotion.
Still, I had no idea she had been breaking someone else’s heart in the process.
“He never mentioned any of that to me” I said quietly.
“I mean, I wouldn’t be bringing it up but I thought you might like to know. She definitely would have heard all the news by now – I mean I had to let her know, didn’t I? – and she is due in this afternoon” she must have managed to tap out a few speedy texts during the meeting.
“She works here part-time, as a columnist. We have a meeting about next months issue. We’re doing a tie-in with the photo shoot she’s in, for the December issue”
“She’s a model.” I didn’t ask it, just declared what was implied. I was secure enough in what Alexander and I had together to maintain my composure, but none of this was particularly good news. My stomach felt just the slightest bit nauseous at the revelations that were being pleasantly unveiled.
“Oh, not just any model, wait till you see. And she is one of the best earners this year. I’m sure you’ve heard of her, Adanna Ezeugo” Halimah said looking at me with her beaded eyes closely.
“Adanna Ezeugo” ah, yes of course I have heard of her. her face was everywhere, it seemed amazing suddenly that I didn’t know about it already. That I hadn’t come across some headline online or seen a picture of the two of them out on the town, in some magazine social page like Halimah boasted: CEO of Regal Dating Supermodel Employee Columnist – no doubt if it had occurred me to go search for him online I would have found out but I was too busy in the moment, with him. and wouldn’t you know, we almost bore the same name!