I kept telling myself my budding friendship with Bamidele was part of the grand plan …
I became O.J’s pet project. Not like I had any complaints about it, it was the highlight of my otherwise chaotic and boring life. With his charm, wit and outright disregard for rules, he was able to make me totally forget about the issues I was facing with my inheritance and my father’s brother.
My father’s empire seemed to be thriving without me, the business was expanding and becoming more economically relevant. Bamidele Adenuga, the guy who had made a big fool out of me, had become the man of the moment. He was still the C.E.O and had somehow managed to clean up the image of the company. I could see through his strategy even though the public apparently couldn’t.
Following the scandal about the workers who were asked to resign in a plot to unseat me, he had managed to expand the operations of a few of the manufacturing plants. As expected, this instantly created hundreds of jobs. A huge show was made of the role the organisation was playing in reducing the unemployment rate in the country. He soon became a regular face in the dailies and on the news. In short, I could tell that he was building an empire with my own empire. I knew I had to intensify my efforts to be strong and fight but nothing seemed to be helping to lift my spirit.
O.J: I don’t understand how it is that you can wear such lovely looking clothes and still look like you are carrying the world on your shoulders.
Me: What is that even supposed to mean?
We had gone shopping for new clothes a week before and I was now trying to pick out a dress for the annual gala night at my father’s members only social club. I had been receiving invites to all their events as my father’s membership had been passed on to me but I had ignored them all. However, in light of my recent decision to get married as soon as possible, it had become necessary for me to find social circles where I could meet potential husbands and the annual gala night at my father’s club was one of such places.
O.J: Men don’t like women who don’t seem approachable. When you smile, a man gains more confidence and is more likely to approach you. Your face screams stay away from me and men hate rejection so they will stay away.
Me: So how come you don’t stay away?
O.J: I don’t stay away because I am not trying to sleep with you.
Me: Oh so if I smiled more often that would be an option for you?
He rolled his eyes.
O.J: I can see you are trying to start a fight.
Me: I am not trying to start a fight. I just find it irritating when men say a woman’s expressions and mannerisms can scare a man away. If he is a real man he won’t get scared!
O.J: Another thing is your strong opinions on women’s rights and all these things you say! Men don’t like women who are always trying to wear the pants in a relationship.
Me: Does having an opinion mean I am trying to be a man? Besides if men would man up, women won’t have to try to wear the pants.
O.J: That is it! I give up.
He grabbed his jacket and started walking out. I rushed after him.
Me: Where do you think you are going?
O.J: Mission aborted. You are going to die single and there is no point wasting my time on a project with no future, when I can be out there trying to make some money.
Me: If I die single then your debt never gets paid and you would have to keep running away from those scary looking guys who are continuously trying to beat you up.
O.J: I’d rather get beaten up than spend one more hour watching you wobble in your high heels and twist your mouth to the side every time you have to wear a nice dress! You can’t even keep your mouth closed long enough to allow me pick an outfit for you and you want to spend the rest of your life with a man? You’re a joke! This is a joke!
I had the perfect comeback to keep his arrogant mouth quiet but I chose not to play into his hands. I knew arguing at this point would prove him right. I had to stoop to conquer.
Me: O.J please I need your help don’t leave me. I have no one else to turn to. Your father won’t even talk to me anymore since he found out I am still spending time with you.
O.J: That is another issue I have with you! If you want to ask for help just ask for help. Why must you try to blackmail into helping you by bringing up my father? Also, when you wanted to ask for my help did you have to dangle your money in my face by asking me to help so you could pay off my debt?
Me: I was only trying to help so it won’t seem like I was trying to use you!
O.J: So you thought it better to buy me as opposed to just using me?
Me: That is not a fair thing to say. I was trying to help you and I didn’t want to bruise your ego by just offering you cash.
O.J: I would have helped you even without the cash offer.
Me: And I would have helped you even without you helping me find a rich husband.
O.J: So does this make us friends?
Me: More like partners.
He laughed out loud and shook his head.
O.J: So are you going to wear the dress to the event or not?
Me: I’ll wear it.
Two hours later, I arrived at the venue of the event which fortunately wasn’t too far from my house.
As soon as I walked into the well decorated hall, I instantly regretted my choice of outfit. The space was so well air-conditioned my bare arms were instantly covered in goose bumps. I was shivering in a matter of seconds and I tried to find a warm corner to hide. It seemed like a very good idea to find somewhere to hide especially because I did not know anyone there. O.J had vehemently refused to accompany me even though my invite allowed for me to bring a guest. He was of the opinion that his presence would jeopardize my chances of being approached by a potential suitor.
He was right but I hated him in that instant because I was cold, lonely and incredibly shy. I eventually found a warm corner by the exit and stood there watching everyone mingle. My arms were folded across my body in an attempt to keep warm. I heard a voice behind me
Need a jacket miss?
I turned around and found a tall, dark young man smiling at me with a jacket in his hands. I was about to tell him I could take care of myself and didn’t need him to show any chivalry by trying to rescue me, but I remembered I was on a mission and immediately started playing out the script O.J and I had acted out a few times before the event.
Me: Yes please.
He helped me get into his jacket and then leaned against the wall beside me.
My name is Akin by the way.
He said … I smiled shyly…the way O.J told me to
Me: Nice to meet you Akin by the way.
Akin: So are you going to tell me your name? Or would you rather stay here by yourself? I have been watching you from across the room.
Me: My name is Adenike.
He gave me a funny look.
Akin: Adenike Williams?
Me: How did you know?
Akin: I am on the gala night planning committee. We have been sending you invites for all our social events and you never responded to anyone of them. We figured you wanted sometime to yourself given the loss of your mother. I am really sorry about her untimely passing.
He reached out and held my hand. He squeezed it tightly. I smiled…it was my first genuine smile of the evening. He slowly let go of my hand.
Akin: So what do you think of our event? You don’t seem to be having much fun.
Me: Hmmmmm. Let me be honest, this is the first time I am attending anything like this.
Akin: Really? But your parents were very outgoing people I am surprised!
Me: Well, I am not outgoing and I think being an only child made it worse.
Akin: So you don’t get out much?
Me: Not really. I don’t have so many friends. I was out of the country for a couple of years for college, by the time I got back I had lost contact with a lot of my childhood friends and then the pressure of being who I am just caught up almost immediately and so here I am.
Adenike shut up…Adenike shut up…I kept telling myself to shut up in my head but my lips won’t just stop moving. O.J had said to be mysterious and intriguing and keep the guy hooked on every single word I was saying. He had said to flirt without being obvious, to giggle in a shy manner and most of all…not to reveal too much of myself. I had broken all the rules now instead of coming across as a sexy, interesting and intelligent lady I had come across as a needy, whiny school girl with no friends.
Just as I was about to find some witty statement to erase the otherwise painfully boring conversation, a nice looking lady walked up to us.
Lady: Darling! There you are I have been looking all over for you!
Akin: I’m sorry dear. I was just having a chat with a friend here.
She said to me.
Lady: My name is Tara. His fiancée
Me: My name is Adenike.
She smiled at me and pulled Akin away. I was glad she did because I was pretty sure he had caught the disappointment that had registered on my face at the word “fiancée” I watched them walk away, Akin looked back and mouthed the words “see you around” to me.
I nodded at him and as soon as he looked away, I headed out the exit and towards the car park. What a waste of time and energy! I wished I had made arrangements to have drinks with O.J after the party so I could at least distract myself from the thoughts of Akin for the night.
I was so busy replaying our brief conversation in my head again and again on the drive home, that it wasn’t till I arrived at the house I realised I had not returned his jacket. Some part of me was glad I hadn’t because it was so comfortable and it smelt heavenly.
That night, I lay the jacket across my pillow and fell asleep soaking in his fragrance. It was the first time I had done anything so childish over a man. Apparently it was a night that was to usher in many other firsts.
Written by Layemi Olusoga
The Duchess of Park-view is a work of fiction and names, characters, businesses, organizations, associations, places, events and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, events, locales, associations or organizations is entirely coincidental.
The content is strictly the opinion of the author and does not represent the views of Diamond Bank Plc or any of its affiliates or subsidiaries.