After Sharon left Kathleen to go get the ticket for her movie, Kathleen looked around subconsciously to see if she would find a trace of Pete and his daughter. She realized she hadn’t asked them what they were doing at the mall. Not that it was any of her business anyway, Kathleen reminded herself as she took a sip from her bottle of malt while waiting for Sharon to return.
“Hello pretty lady!” Someone greeted from her side making her turn to look at the young man who had something that was supposed to be a sexy grin on his face, but which only seemed to irritate her. A first glance at him already told her he wasn’t her type. He had a tattoo on the entire length of one arm and an earring in one ear.
“My name is…”
“Do you want something?” She asked, cutting him off impatiently before he could finish introducing himself, very sure she wasn’t ready for any unnecessary introductions.
“Are you alone? Can I sit with you?” The young man asked with a wide smile.
“I’m not alone. And NO. You can’t sit with me. I don’t need the extra company. Thank you.” Kathleen said dismissively, and as if to drive her point home, she took out her phone from her handbag and started scrolling through it. The purpose was simple, she needed to make it clear to him that his attention was not welcomed.
“Okay. Sorry for being a bother.” The young man said before walking away, feeling very embarrassed by her cold reception.
Kathleen sighed and dropped her phone on the table immediately the man left. She knew she was a very intelligent and undoubtedly beautiful young lady.
As a matter of face most people often mistook her to be an half-caste because of her complexion and her perfect body stature.
She had even been scouted by some modelling agencies to work for them in the past, but she had outrightly rejected them saying she wasn’t cut out for such celebrity lifestyle. Or maybe she had rejected their offers because of the rumours she had heard about models being forced to be sexually involved with men for endorsements and stuff.
So if she was that beautiful what was wrong with her? Why was she always so uptight around men? Or was it people in general? She just found it difficult allowing people come too close to her. That was probably the reason her only friend in Lagos was Sharon.
“What are you thinking about so seriously?” Sharon asked when she returned and saw the frown on Kathleen’s face.
“Did you hear that Gloria is getting married soon?” Kathleen asked Sharon with a frown.
“Yes. She chatted me up on Facebook to find out if I was interested in buying her asoebi. What has that got to do with the frown on your face?” Sharon asked as she cupped her face in both hands with her elbow on the table while looking at Kathleen.
“Everybody is getting married. Almost all our secondary school class mates are married. it’s not like I’m worried… I just feel somehow about it. Everyday I go on social media and it’s either I’m seeing a newly wed post or it’s an engagement post or couple goals. Doesn’t it bother you?” Kathleen asked, looking at Sharon curiously.
“Why should it? By the way didn’t I spy a guy standing beside you a while ago? What did he want? Let me guess, you chased him away before he could even tell you what he wanted, didn’t you?” Sharon asked, giving her a knowing look.
“I don’t think he is a Christian. He has a tattoo and was even wearing an earring.” Kathleen informed Sharon.
“Really This your judgemental attitude is becoming too much. This was the same thing you did when you were living in my house. I know how many men were seriously interested in you, yet you found something wrong with every one of them. Did you even give anyone of them a listening ear?” Sharon continued.
“But they’re not Christians, I can’t date or marry anyone who doesn’t know God o.” Kathleen protested.
“Assistant Jesus, Well done.” Sharon said sarcastically, “Tell me something, do you think those people you’re seeing on your timeline on Facebook met their partners inside the Bible? You think you will find a man with this your square lifestyle? You’re always going from the house to the office, to the church or to the market. No socializing, no nothing! Why am I even wasting my breath? When you’re ready to get into a relationship you will. You’re just not serious yet.” Sharon hissed at her.
“Why are you getting mad at me? I was only telling you how I felt, I didn’t ask you to give me a husband. You’re talking as if you’re even married. You that goes everywhere, how come you’re not married and you’re following another woman’s husband?” Kathleen retorted making Sharon hiss at her.
“At least I have a man even if he is someone’s husband, can you boast of any?” Sharon asked sticking her tongue out.
“God knows I’ve given you the best advise I can give to you as a friend. All this your churchiness won’t take you anywhere. Last last I might even go to heaven and you will go to hell.” Sharon said with a giggle making Kathleen laugh as they both stood up.
“Enjoy your movie jare, let me come and start going to church.” Kathleen said as she picked up her hand bag.
“Remember what I told you about your boss? Join in the race for his heart o. Better don’t dull.” Sharon said as she pulled her ear in warning.
“Abeg I’m not interested. I’m going before you start talking about another thing again.” Kathleen said with a small laugh as she turned to leave.
“Thank you for the money o. Make sure I hear something good when next we see.” Sharon called after her as she left.
Pete had a bored expression on his face as he stood by his office window looking at nothing in particular. He only knew that if he remained seated in that chair staring at one more paper work, he was likely going to go raving mad.
He glanced at his wristwatch for what appeared to be that tenth time in that hour and scowled when he saw that the time seemed not to be moving at all. Even after working in the office for more than two months he still couldn’t get used to it. He could never get used to this whole company business. Office work just wasn’t his thing.
He had discovered earlier on from his university days that he had a passion for food. Not just eating it, but the art of making it as well. Cooking and watching people enjoy his delicacies was what made him happy.
His father had adamantly refused to hear any of it. God forbid that the almighty Chief Howell would allow his eldest child pursue such a passion of becoming a mere chef. His mother of course wasn’t one to interfere in such issues, so she had taken his father’s side. Despite their disapproval, Pete had gone ahead to pursue his dreams and had gone ahead to register himself in various schools where he took catering and hotel management courses.
He never would have thought he would end up working in his father’s office again, especially after their last row before he left the country. But here he was, doing everything he had said he wouldn’t do because his father was a very cunning old man.
He had received a call from his father’s lawyer some months earlier asking him to come back home and take over the company. He had rejected it outrightly until he heard his father was in the hospital after a major heart attack. The lawyer had also gone on to tell him that his father had in his will that if Pete refused to take over the company in the case of his demise, his property was to be given away to charity, and none of his other children was to be given a dime. So here he was, sacrificing himself for the sake of his siblings, leaving little or no room for himself and his daughter.
His childhood friend Kenneth had suggested that what he probably needed was a personal assistant. Someone who could help balance things for him both at home and in the office, someone who could be a babysitter when he goes on his business trips. “Preferably a very attractive female.” Kenneth had added with a wink.
Now that he thought about it, perhaps Ken was right. He needed help, and he needed it urgently. He could simply ask his secretary to help recommend a suitable person for that position. He decided there was no need wasting extra time thinking about it when he could act on it.
Pete walked out of his office and walked up to his secretary’s desk flashing her his most charming smile, “Hello Clara!”
“Hello sir! Do you need something?” Clara asked eagerly as she stood up, feeling flattered that he had finally remembered her name.
“Please sit down. And yes you can help me. I’m in need of a personal assistant. Preferably female. Someone responsible and smart who could take care of Amanda in my absence. Not a slay queen please.” Pete said as he sat by the edge of her desk.
“A babysitter?” Clara asked, just to be certain she understood what he was saying.
“Amanda hardly qualifies to be called a baby, but yeah. A long term part-time babysitter. Since Amanda is in school she can work. I’ll prefer someone within the company if possible. That will kind of make the job easier.” Pete added.
Clara looked at him and wished she could tell him that what he needed was actually a wife and not a personal assistant, or perhaps recommend herself for the position, but unfortunately she knew he wouldn’t want that.
She thought about it for a second an decided that since she had been given the privilege of picking the personal assistant, then it would be best she recommended someone she was sure would never think of catching Pete’s eye.
“I think Miss Kathleen Okorie would do perfectly for that position, she is smart, intelligent and I’m pretty sure she is good with kids too.” Clara declared with a modest smile. Everyone in the company knew that Kathleen was very churchy, uptight and never welcomed advances from men.
He was certain he knew that name but he just couldn’t remember where or how. “Kathleen Okorie? Why does that name sound familiar? Do I know her?” Pete asked with a puzzled expression on his face.
“She is just one of the staff in the HR department.” Clara said, grateful that he didn’t even remember who Kathleen was.
Having been introduced to all the workers in the building he had too many names in his head already. Well, he’d just wait to see what his prospective personal assistant looks like.
“OK, please contact her immediately I’d like to discuss with her.” Pete said before returning into his office.
By Monday afternoon Kathleen had totally forgotten all about her encounter with Pete and his daughter. Who wouldn’t in her shoes? She had returned really late from choir rehearsals on Saturday evening because brother Solomon the only brother in the choir who was supposed to do a duet with her had failed to get his part of the song right, so they had had to rehearse the song over and over again until he finally got it right. By the time she finally got home around eight in the evening she had been welcomed by her nosy neighbor who broke the news to her that the transformer had blown and so there wasn’t going to be light in the neighborhood for sometime. She had then gotten inside her room to discover that the soup she had made the previous evening after work had gone sour. She had been too tired to get something else to eat so she had simply washed the pot and showered before going to bed.
Then on Sunday morning she had woken up very early to meet up with church activities and had returned to the house late in the evening after house fellowship only to remember that she had failed to wash her work clothes on Saturday because of her outing with Sharon. She had spent the whole of Sunday evening washing and cleaning up her house before she had finally gone to bed.
She had been very reluctant to leave her bed when she woke up that morning. She had woken up feeling very discontented and dissatisfied with her life. She wanted more out of her life than the usual Monday to Monday rush. She wanted to earn more money, she wanted to get married, she wanted kids. Was that asking too much? Was God not hearing her prayers or was he not just ready to answer her yet?
This was the last day of August, and tomorrow they were going to be in the ‘Ember months’. Before you know it, it would be Christmas, and she would have to go home for Gloria’s wedding as well as to celebrate with her family. She didn’t want to return home without at least being in a relationship. She had less than three months to work something out. Maybe Sharon had been right. Maybe she needed to put herself out there. How was she even going to accomplish all of that with her busy schedules?
“Are you okay?” Dave asked when Kathleen suddenly sighed.
“Are you talking to me?” Kathleen asked as she turned to look at him in surprise. She hadn’t realized he was watching her. “Yes. Why?”
“You just hissed. I observed that you have been moody since you resumed work this morning.” Dave said looking at her with concern.
“It’s nothing serious jare. Some days are just like that. Thanks for your concern.” Kathleen said with a smile of gratitude.
“If you say so. Just take things easy sha.” Dave advised before returning his attention to his work.
Kathleen raised a brow when the telephone on her desk started ringing. She had felt the telephone was just there for fancy since they hardly ever received any calls via the telephone. She had once heard a rumor in the office that the telephone only rang when one was about to be fired or promoted. She looked up and noticed that all her colleagues were looking at her with open curiosity, and she couldn’t help feeling nervous as she picked up the receiver.
“Is this Kathleen Okorie?” Clara asked.
“Yes?” Kathleen asked nervously.
“The Chairman wants to see you in his office right now.”
“Me? Why?” Kathleen asked but the only response she got was the disconnect tone which told her Clara had dropped the call. She looked at the telephone with a frown.
Hope you are catching up small small?
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