September 1 | Cable Connections
She picked up on the first ring.
“Why did you leave? When did you leave? And why didn’t you wake me up?” He launched out immediately without preamble or pleasantries.
“Good morning to you too, Eddie. I have a question too. When did you speak to my mum?”
“You were fast asleep. She called three times. I picked up the third time around. I couldn’t bear to wake you up. I couldn’t ignore her either. I didn’t know if it was an emergency.”
“What did you both talk about? Because she’s asking a lot of questions.”
“That’s between both of us.” A trace of laughter could be heard in his voice now. “Why did you leave, Esohe?” He reverted to that uppermost in his mind. “I was looking to waking up and seeing you.”
“I have a couple of things to do before tonight. I had to go. “ She explained. “Staying over last night wasn’t part of my plan but… well.”
“Could you plan not to stay over again? Because I’m glad you did.” He told her. “Even my staff want you here too.”
“Vincent asked when madam would be returning. Even before asking if I wanted anything for breakfast!”
She began to giggle.
“He was very pleased you ate his food. Wants to feed you again soon.”
“My compliments to him. It was a life – saver at midnight.”
“Then Tony asked if he’d be driving you to the gala this evening. Not me. You. And he’s supposed to be my driver who doesn’t work on Saturdays!”
She giggled loudly.
“What did you give both of them to drink, woman?!”
“The very same concoction you gave my mum!” She shot right back without hesitation, still giggling.
His laughter was short-lived. “I loved having you here. Watching you sleep, wearing my t-shirt, fi…”
“Hold on one second, Daniel Craig! How did you see that?! I changed while you were still passed out in dreamland and…”
“My internal clock wakes me at 4am every day. Whether I’m working or not. Then I can return to bed when I don’t have anything lined up.”
“Oh, I see.”
“Watching you was one of the easiest things I’ve done in a while.” He paused. “It showed how naturally you fit into my life, into my home, how we fit as a couple. I hope you realize it as much as we all do.”
“Who is we?”
“Tony, Vincent and I.”
“I come with baggage, Eddie. I am not alone.”
“I’ve already accommodated Osayu; I just need to meet the young man when you’re good and ready.”
“Hmm. I have to go. I’m having my hair done.”
“You look amazing just the way you are.”
“A little help won’t hurt when I’ll be facing the full complement of B&I staff tonight. I have to be battle ready.”
“See you later then. Tony will be on his way in a couple of hours. I’ll let you know when.”
“Oh? I thought…”
“If he wants to be your chauffeur today, then that’s not a problem. He just shouldn’t fight with me over your affections. That would be crossing boundaries.”
She began to giggle again.
“Next time, take the t-shirt.”
Tony pulled up at the outer entrance of the Eko Convention Centre a few minutes before 7pm. Twilight was slowly descending, and the area was brightly lit. Powerful lights beamed on the temporarily barricade erected to screen invited guests as well as control the influx of movement between the hall and the grounds.
A queue of gaily attired individuals snaked from the point of entry all the way to the hotel’s reception cum lounge, waiting their turn to access the passageway leading to the event hall.
“Thank you, Tony.” Esohe’s feet, encased in encrusted, silver, high-heeled sandals hit the ground first. Then she unfurled form the car. Immediately, she searched for Eddie as the door swung shut; he’d promised to be out here.
He saw her first, and for a few moments was rooted to his spot just behind the barricade, to the left of it where he awaited her arrival. [
Half–hidden by security guards and the protocol team, he was mesmerized as he drank in her loveliness in the sheer, wine-red evening dress she wore whispering around her slim figure. Spaghetti–handed, and close-fitting around her chest area, it flared out suddenly thereafter, billowing ever so slightly around her, ending at her knees. The effect of the design made her appear to glide rather that walk.
Black, shoulder-length weave was piled up atop her head, a few strands teased out to draw attention to a face with enough make-up to look natural while highlighting her fine, facial features.
Between her palms lay a silver, bejeweled, square clutch and a wrap of a similar shade with her gown. Twine-thin, silver necklace formed a perfect V around her necklace with its tail disappearing into her cleavage matching drooping earrings completed her accessories.
She was simple yet stunning.
Eddie stopped gawking when she turned away and began to head to the back of the queue. He tapped the security man closest to him and pointed to her gliding figure.
Moments later she was in front of the line, smiling up at him as she was being ushered in.
“You look exquisite.” He air-kissed both her cheeks once they stood yards apart.
“You don’t look so bad yourself.” She returned the compliment in reference to the immaculate picture he cut in his charcoal black tuxedo, white shirt and black bow tie. He filled out the ensemble nicely – not too lanky, not too bulky. Just the right weight to carry it off. Once again, she mused on how formidable and imposing he appeared in formal wear. Something told her he was aware of the effect and wondered if his choice of profession was deliberate.
“Can we go to my place?” He asked. “I just realized I don’t want to share you with anyone else. Let alone everyone.”
She eyed him playfully. “Behave, counsellor!”
He turned to his side and flexed his left arm, presenting it to her. “Shall we, my lady?” She slipped one of hers into the crook he created, and they both set off down the passageway lined underfoot with a stretch of plush red carpeting, at the end of which flashes of light were going off sporadically.
“There are a couple of things I need to tell you. “ He began.
She glanced up at him. “I’m listening.”
“There’s a committee set up for this charity in the office. I head it.”
“Our table is located at the very front of the hall, close to the stage, and we’ll likely be sharing it with my bosses and their wives.”
“I’ll try not to embarrass you” She teased.
He grinned. “Chances are I might have to leave you on your own on occasion, only if it’s absolutely necessary.”
“If you must, Eddie. I’ll be fine, and use the opportunity to get all your secrets from your colleagues.”
“At some point, I’ll be making a speech about the charity and the firm’s work.”
“Got it, Mr. Chairman.”
“There’s usually a dance competition at the end of the evening.” He stared straight ahead as he said this. “I’ll need your help to keep my title from last year.”
“Oh yeah? Who helped you win it back then?”
“I was alone and having fun, when I was declared the winner.” He paused. “We could recreate our salsa moves.”
“You’ve got to be kidding, Eddie. We’ll lose spectacularly if we do that.”
“I doubt it. No one else will be doing the same steps. How do you think I won last year?”
They reached the end of the walkway where it widened into a lounge-like space; the media and photographers reigned supreme as their various targets basked in the deluge of flashes from numerous sophisticated zoom lens against a gigantic backdrop listing the name of the charity, LLW and B & I. Esohe realized she knew the charity. LLW stood for Life is our Life’s Work. La Feminine had featured it and its CEO Mrs. Aribisala, when the charity celebrated its fifth anniversary last year.
For a few moments, they allowed lenses focus on them as lights went off rapidly. When it became obvious Esohe was the cynosure of some of the photographers, Eddie stepped out of focus and was promptly ambushed by a reporter who shoved her branded microphone beneath his mouth, firing off questions in rapid succession.
It wasn’t until several long minutes after Eddie declined any more questions and extricated himself from the reporters who had swelled to four, from the initial sole attacker, in a matter of seconds.
He also rescued Esohe from a hoard of photographers keen on shooting her into a supermodel career as a side job.
“Sorry.” He whispered, clasping her free hand gently.
She squeezed back, shaking her head, curls swaying. “I enjoyed the 15 minutes of fame.” They walked towards the revolving glass doors.
“Eddie, my man!” A booming voice called out from behind.
Both of them turned in the direction of the sound.
The owner of the voice matched Eddie in height and dress but for his sagging paunch, his tuxedo would have been a smart fit. Light – skinned and heavily bearded, he had a happy-go-lucky look about him. A gust of musky, masculine scent floated as he stepped closer for a handshake.
“Ah Dipo!” Eddie pumped palms with the stranger.
“Oh boy, when did you get back?” Dipo didn’t let go immediately. ‘We need to talk like yesterday!” His light-brown flecked eyes strayed to a quiet Esohe beside Eddie.
“Not today. Not here.” The other man said. “My trip took time I didn’t have. You want to come over to the house tomorrow?” He offered.
Dipo was shaking his head. “Not spending my Sunday working. Monday then.” His eyes stayed on Esohe. “And this must be BB.” His face creased into a smile.
Eddie effected the introductions. “Oladipo Soetan, friend and colleague, meet Esohe Eweka, my girlfriend.”
“Hello.” She spoke for the first time, extending a hand towards Dipo.
He took it and flipped it, stooping and kissing it before she figured out what his intentions were. “Enchante, Miss Eweka. Hope you enjoy the evening’s activities.”
“I plan to. Thanks.”
He looked back to his friend. “Later, man.” He touched his shoulders, turned around and strode away.
“BB?” Esohe inquired. Her arm back in the crook of his elbow as they went through the revolving entrance doors and into the hall, decked out elegantly in blue and yellow lights, and large bales of cloths and balloons in similar shades. Round tables, sitting six persons at a time, dotted the space, covered in the same splendor of colour – tablecloths, chair covers, reserved signs, little numbered squares and flowers in fragile, slim transparent flutes. About half of the tables were already occupied. Music emanated from a life band on the stage was at a reasonable decibel level for now.
Eddie threw her a glance, his lips curving mischievously. “Black Beauty.” His voice pitched slightly higher than normal. “Given to you by I don’t know who. Maybe Tony or the receptionist back at the office. “He continued, as they made their way to the front of the hall. “It started with ‘A black beauty came to see Mr. Williams…’” i