Fola rushed out of the bathroom and picked his ringing phone from the bed. “Yemi?”
“Guess who is going to the court of appeal with an application to file additional evidence and upturn the ruling you previously won?”
He smiled. That was the cocky Yemi speaking. They had won the case. “Congratulations.” He said.
“Aww! You sound like a loser, Fola. And I pretty much like that.”
He took his seat. “How is Aaima?”
“She is happy, and most importantly, she is in Obi’s arms. Boy, you need to see them hugging.”
Fola frowned. Yemi was tormenting him on purpose. Well, he didn’t have to listen to all that. “Alright, Yemi, I have got to get back into the shower.”
“So soon? I was just getting to the juicy part. I really did think that Obi was squeezing too—”
Fola hissed as he hung up. “Did I ask for the details?” he said to himself.
He tapped on his phone and dialled his mother.
Yemi grinned to herself as the line went dead. She sure was enjoying the moment. Even though she couldn’t see Fola’s facial expression, she was sure she had pissed him off…even if it was a little. Well, Fola not the only one she had pissed off.
“Did you have to do that?”
Yemi turned to Sarah with a smile. “Do what?”
“Force me to take this case so I could lose?”
Yemi nodded. “Yes, I had to do it.”
“Why?” Sarah asked, approaching her.
Yemi stared at Sarah. “I thought you had potentials, I decided to give you an opportunity to level in my playing ground.”
“Crap! You set me up!” Sarah retorted. “You had all the cards, how would I have won this?”
Yemi smiled. “You tried to kill me. You don’t expect me to play fair after that, Sarah. Besides, how did you enjoy being fooled? I guess it was horrible. But trust me, I found your melt down in court more interesting.”
“You are annoying.” Sarah replied.
Yemi grabbed her bags. “It was a pleasure making your acquaintance. You are fifteen million naira richer, spend it wisely.” She said and turned away from her.
“Why are you letting me go?” Sarah asked, stopping Yemi. “You know what I did, why didn’t you bring it up in your case?”
Yemi sighed. “One, I am not as petty as you think. And no, my life is not a trivial matter, but I just prefer to deal with some matters out of court. Right now, I have to prepare for an appeal and I really can’t care about you. And two, you owe me.”
“I owe you?” Sarah asked, approaching her.
Yemi nodded. “I don’t want to go the bar and get you disbarred. Of what good will that do me? You are now my puppet. That’s one of the problems you face when you mess with me and I find out. I am gladly going to use you, until I get bored. You have potential, win some cases while you can.”
“You are a dirty lawyer, Yemi.” Sarah said, clenching her teeth.
Yemi shrugged. “Better than a murderer.”
“I did not kill anyone!” she retorted.
Yemi nodded. “Well, you connived to attempt a murder. Let’s just call you a murderer-in-the-making. Sounds good?”
Sarah blinked as she watched Yemi walk away from her to join up with Obi and Aaima. Her eyes were w€t. This was not the dream she had. She had always wanted to start off her career with a win, but it was not losing that hurt her the most. It was the realization of how low and dirty she had sunk. She sure was not proud of this life. She clasped her bag in her arm as she stared at Yemi laughing with Obi and Aaima. She longed to have this moment. An honest moment with people who genuinely did care about her. She was not sure she was ever going to have anything like this. She would not sulk too much about it. She already chose her path…now it was time to walk down that lane…alone. With that, she stepped out of the court room.
Yemi watched Sarah leave and then turned to Obi and Aaima. “Inasmuch as I would have loved to spend some more time with you guys, I have to be on my way to see a friend.”
“By friend, you mean your boss?” Aaima asked.
Yemi nodded. “Yes, the court of appeal process would be in a couple of days, maybe a week at most, I need to get everything ready. Witnesses are not needed in the court of appeal, so you don’t have to go through that phase. Take care guys. See you later in the evening.” She replied, walking away from them.
Obi turned to Aaima. “So, what’s next?”
“Yemi said they’ll be retrieving my passport and papers from Umar’s house and sending it over to me. I can go back home.” She replied.
He blinked. “Really?”
She nodded. “There is nothing here for me.”
Obi raised an eyebrow. “Seriously?”
“I don’t know exactly where Fola and I stand, and I don’t want to assume things, knowing who Fola is.” She replied.
Obi scoffed. “Come on! The brother is in love with you.”
“Is he?” she asked, sounding uninterested. “When you love someone, you show it.”
Obi stared at her. Women are such complicated beings! How else was Fola going to display his emotions to Aaima, when she was the one not willing to talk in the first place! He managed a smile. “Let’s get you home.” He said, waving thoughts of Aaima and Fola from his head. It was not as if he was completely over her. It was a work in progress. He could not suffer a setback in this.
She nodded and followed him.
Fola stared at his Mom as she sipped from her juice. “Mom, you do know that my data is running, right?”
Mrs King drew closer to the camera. “Is mine not wasting too?” she retorted.
Fola frowned. Why did he even decide to skype with her rather than call? Mrs King had insisted on seeing his face and he had no choice than to put that call through to her. “Mom, there is free Wi-Fi in your hotel o!” he complained. “Obi doesn’t have Wi-Fi here.”
“Ehen! Pele o! (Sorry o!) So, what are you going to do now? Case won! The girl would be back. Are you going to man up and put your emotions to correct use?” she asked.
He took a deep breath. “I really don’t know, Mom. I am scared of all these. Aaima’s hold on me is not something I am used to. I’d do anything for her. That’s not me, Mom.”
“That’s the man in you. Look, Fola, I am proud of you and more proud of this man you are becoming. We don’t have to go through this a thousand times. All she needs to hear from you is, I am in love with you, Aaima. Man, you have got to make the official move. I think you have all the signs you need, Fola.” She replied.
He exhaled. “What about Obi, Mom?”
“What about Fola? What about Aaima?” she asked.
He looked away. “I don’t think I can do this. There are a lot of things I am yet to achieve.”
“Here we go again.” Mrs King interrupted with a groan. “Fola, you are running.”
He nodded. “Yes, Mom. I don’t deserve her. There is no point forcing myself into a life. Sometimes, a man has got to do what is best for the other person. Meanwhile, I haven’t made partner at Peterside yet. I haven’t-”
“-Fola! This is not about making partner, and you know it! Son, why do you think you don’t deserve her? Don’t go down that lane, Fola. Don’t shut out love, you are always going to regret it.”
Fola exhaled. “I have to go now, Mom. The dust has settled. When are you returning?” he asked.
Mrs King knew he had bottled up. She wasn’t ready to push him. “I don’t know. I am enjoying this place much more than I would have thought. I have a spa appointment in about an hour, when I am done, I’ll call you. Is that alright?”
He chuckled. “You are beautiful, Mom.”
“I have always known that. I need to stay that.” She replied. “Bye, Fola.” She said and stopped the call.
Fola sighed. He knew what the first step to giving Aaima a chaos free life did entail. It was getting away from her. That, he would do.
Umar dropped his blanket on the bed as the warden shut the door and walked away from him. He found it hard to believe that Yusuf had betrayed him. He was still in shock. This was like one huge joke and he needed reality to pinch him back to life.
He rushed to the door as Yusuf joined him. “You b******.”
Yusuf smiled. “No. It’s Special Agent Hakeem Dan Foster.”
“How could you?” Umar asked. “I trusted you! You made me kill her.”
Yusuf cleared his throat. “Did I? We didn’t have enough time to chat in court before the judge kicked you down here, so I decided to come say hello to an old friend.”
“I am going to get you for this.” Umar replied.
Yusuf smiled. “Normally I’ll be worried, but Umar, you are going to be locked up for a long time. You are going to get convicted for murder too.”
“Bulls***. I won that case!” he replied.
Yusuf nodded. “Except that it would be upturned in the court of appeal and your sentence is going to change. Life imprisonment, Umar. Life.”
Umar banged the gates. “You animal!”
“You have not heard the best part. Your goods came in and as we speak, the government is doing the needful with them. So, my good friend, your investment is burned. You are in here and you need to get comfortable.” Yusuf said.
Umar clenched his teeth in anger. “I am going to make you pay.”
“I suggest you make friends with the guys once they relocate you to maximum prison. The mosquitoes in there are bad and boy, you will wish the judge sentenced you to death instead.” Yusuf replied.
Umar stared at him. “What about all the money I paid you? Is it not a crime for you to have that money?”
Yusuf laughed. “Me? My name is Hakeem. You paid a certain Yusuf. I don’t know him.” He replied. “So long, Umar. So long.” He added, walking away.
Umar slammed the gates heavily.
“You dey mad????” The warden screamed.
Obi returned to the living room. “Fola is not here.”
“He is not answering his phone either.” Aaima replied, dropping Obi’s phone on the table.
Obi took his seat. “We could go and check on him at his place.”
“Why? This is Fola’s statement.” She replied.
He nodded. “Yes, it is…but what are you going to do about it? Are you just going to let him go?”
“Fola doesn’t want to be chased.” She replied.
He scoffed. “Everybody wants to be chased, Aaima. If he is not coming to you, go to him. You guys shouldn’t waste this. It’s not fair on either of you.”
She knew Obi was right but maybe Fola wasn’t there yet. She knew she loved him, but he had to meet her somewhere. Fola wasn’t doing this. Instead, he was withdrawing. This made no sense.
Obi handed her his keys. “Go to his house.”
“I don’t know about this.” She replied.
He nodded. “We never know.”
Obi exhaled. “What if? What if not? Aaima, your docvments are here. Talk to Fola, you have nothing to lose. Give Fola another chance and if he doesn’t come around, he is the fool and you can return ‘home’, wherever that is for you.”
She folded her palms. “Thank you, Obi,”
Aaima pushed the doorbell tirelessly. She stared at the dark clouds that were gathering. It was going to rain anytime soon. She kept pressing the doorbell. No response. She sighed as she dialled Fola’s phone. No response. He was doing this on purpose. She didn’t need anyone to tell her that. She pulled out the note she had written to him and slid it under the door. She had been out there for thirty minutes and she did not see the need to continue. She had done her best.
“Goodbye, Fola.” She said and walked away.
Fola picked the note from the other end of the door and looked through the window as he watched her drive off. He opened it.
You know this is silly, right? But my heart is on the floor for all to see…and I know where it wants to be. I hope you realize someday the girl you let walk away…well, I am walking really slow…hoping you’d catch up someday. But, I am not going to walk slow forever.
He folded the letter and exhaled. He opened the door, her car was no longer in sight. She did not deserve him. He was sure of this.
A week gone.
Yemi hugged Aaima. “Fola is a douche bag, never forget that.” She said.
Aaima chuckled. “I’ll keep that in mind. Thank you for everything.” She replied. “I am glad to have met you.”
Yemi nodded. “It was my pleasure.”
Obi checked his wristwatch. “It’s time. Safe journey.”
“Thank you, Obi.” Aaima said, hugging him. “Don’t forget what I asked.”
He nodded. “Of course.”
Aaima pulled her bag and walked away from them.
Yemi stared at Obi. “Fola really did not show up! You know I was actually thinking he was going to pull some stunt, maybe ride a horse through this place and stop Aaima.”
Obi laughed. “Fola? Ride a horse? I have no words for that guy.”
“Well, I guess it’s time to go.” She said. “See you around, Obi.” She said, walking away.
He nodded. “See you around, Yemi.”
Mr Peterside stared at Fola. “You are back here again with another cheque.” He said, staring at the envelope. “I would have thought you’d wait another month or something.”
Fola managed a smile. “Just check my offer.”
Mr Peterside opened the envelope. It was a letter. He smiled. “Resignation letter, Fola? Are you threatening me into making you partner? Foul move.”
Fola rose to his feet. “I have spent a long time here making Peterside what it is. Fola King has come of age. I am done here.” He said. “Thank you for everything, Sir.” He added, approaching the door.
Fola turned to Mr Peterside. “I am sorry. It has stopped being my dream.” He replied and walked out.
“Look who is here!” Fola said as he walked into his office.
Obi smiled. “Aaima is gone.”
Fola cleared his throat. “Oh well, I hope you don’t feel too bad.”
“No. Not at all.”
Fola nodded with a smile. “That’s good.”
Obi stared at him. “I sent you several messages, but you did not show up.”
“Obi, I have been really busy getting my life into order and rearranging my priorities. One of which, I don’t work here anymore.” Fola replied, taking his seat beside Obi. “I have been doing a lot of thinking and I know I should have at least said sorry to Aaima, but-”
Obi silenced him with a punch in the face. “I am sorry. Aaima asked me to do that!” he said, stepping away from Fola.
Fola frowned. “She could have just done it herself.” He said, groaning.
“What do you mean?!” Obi asked, slightly confused.
2 days later
The doorbell chimed endlessly. Aaima’s neighbour Claire was going to give her a ride to the office and she was running late. Aaima rushed downstairs and grabbed her coat from the hanger as she opened the door. “I am so—”she stopped and gaped.
Fola smiled. “Hi, Aaima.”
“…there’s a place called home; it finds you. – Tomi Adesina”
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