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Saturday, November 21, 2015

Rosie and the Chief (2)

 
One day, nearly five months after our first meeting, Chief Simon called to invite me for an international business conference he was attending.
"I will be away for about two weeks. I could use some company so how about coming with me?" he asked over the phone.
It sounded tempting especially since he disclosed he would be taking a short vacation in the U.K after the conference in Canada. Then I remembered my job and also Lucas, my boyfriend.

"Would have liked to but duty calls. Can't take time off work now as we are rather busy at the office. Even my leave this year was cancelled," I explained. The company had just brought out a new product and I was deeply involved in its marketing. 
But I had reckoned without Chief's influence. Some days later, my big boss, the Marketing Director of the company called me to his office and informed me that the annual leave I had applied for sometime before and had been turned down, had been approved.

"You can go on your leave now if you still want it," were his words.
I left his office, wondering what was going on. This was the same man who had told all of us in the department just weeks before that no one could take time off work until the new product that had been launched was doing well in the market.
I did not have long to wonder. That same evening, one of Chief's P.As, Patrick came with a note from Chief with instructions to give him my international passport since I had been given my leave.
After the man left, I called Chief on phone.

"How did you know my leave had been approved?" were the first words I uttered.
He laughed and said:
"Well, let's just say the Chairman of your company is a friend and tennis partner at the club. We had a game yesterday and I had a word with him concerning your matter and here we are!" His explanation sounded reasonable and I wondered at how the rich and powerful in the society often got their wishes and desires just by the snap of a finger.

***
"Don't tell me you have accepted Chief's invitation!" said Helena a few days later at her house in Surulere, Lagos. I had just told her my leave had been granted and I was going with Chief on his trip afterall.
"Of course I have! Free ticket, accommodation and everything. What's not to like? I think it will be fun," I told her happily.
"What sensible person will turn down such an opportunity?" put in Hilda, a mutual friend of ours. "If I were her, I would grab at it with both hands. So, let her go and enjoy herself. I envy you o, Rosie," she added turning to me.
"But what about Lucas? Have you told him you are travelling soon?" asked Helena with a frown.
 I shook my head.
 "No. I'll do that some days before I leave," I said.
 "Well, I don't think he will be too pleased to know you are travelling abroad with your sugar daddy," she said.
 "What's your problem? I have told you several times that Chief is not my 'sugar anything.' We are just friends. Besides, Lucas and I are not married. We are just dating. We are not engaged or anything and I can see whoever I want. If he doesn't like it, well too bad," I said, shrugging.

  "I hope you know what you are doing," she said.
 "Your problem, Helena is that you worry too much. Lucas is my boyfriend, not yours. I know how to manage my love life," I said.
 I did not tell my boyfriend the full details of the trip- I lied that my company was sponsoring me for the conference I was attending.
 "I'll miss you," he said, stating that he would have loved to come with me if he had some free time from work.
 "Hey! I'll only be away for a few weeks. You talk as if I'm relocating abroad," I said, laughing.
 "I know. But those few weeks will be like a year to me. Make sure you call as soon as you get there," he said hugging me tightly...

 On the trip
What can I say about the trip other than it went well and Chief gave me a surprise I was not expecting? We arrived safely in Montreal where the conference took place, after a stop over in the U.S. Patrick, Chief's Personal Assistant who travelled with us, had made hotel reservations for us and we drove down there on arrival.
 I had a separate room and I was a bit surprised as I had thought I would share Chief's suite with him.

  Anyway, while he attended the conference during the morning and afternoon, Patrick and I went round exploring the city and doing some shopping accompanied by a French speaking guide he arranged for us.
 It was on getting to London that Chief sprang his surprise on me. One evening, a few days after arriving in the U.K, I had gone to visit an old school friend who lived in another part of the city. When I returned to his house, I saw a parcel addressed to me on the centre table in the living room.
 'Who could be buying me gifts in London?' I wondered as I opened the parcel. Inside was an engagement ring, encrusted with diamonds and other precious stones that glittered in the soft light in the room.
 I was admiring the ring in its case when a voice said behind me:
 "I think that will look better on your finger."

  I turned sharply to see Chief coming down the stairs, a broad smile on his face. 
 "What do you mean, Chief?" I blurted out. He drew close, took my hand and led me to the sofa.
 "I know this must have come as a surprise to you. But the truth is, I want you as my wife. So, will you marry me, my lovely Rose?" he said. He took my left hand and slipped the ring on it. 
 To say I was surprised was stating the obvious. I had thought of many things Chief could have wanted from me. Marriage was not among them.

  "But Chief, you have a wife and many children already! So, why this?" I asked.
 "You are quite correct, my dear. But listen to what I have to say and you will understand the reason I'm doing this," he said.
 "You see, dear, my wife and I live virtually separate lives. We are husband and wife in name only. We've been separated for years. The breakdown of our marriage did not begin today. It all started long ago. 
 To be fair to my wife, I'm partly to blame for what happened. Over twenty years ago, I met this young lady, very beautiful. One thing led to the other and I fell in love with her. An affair started and before long, she got pregnant for me. I wanted the baby so I got an apartment for her where she stayed with my daughter after she put to bed.
 "Soon, my wife got to know about my mistress and the child. As expected, she was not pleased at what had happened and she made her views clear. It caused a lot of quarrels and fights between us. Even many years after the incident, my wife has not forgiven me or let bygones be bygones. Unfortunately, my mistress died from a terminal illness when my daughter was about five years old. I had to bring my child to our home so I could raise her myself. That's my last child Claire, you've met her a couple of times at my house in Lagos.

  "Anyway, bringing Claire into our home was like the last straw for my wife. She refused to accept the girl, stating she would rather die than bring up 'a strange woman's child'. She moved out of our home and has stayed out ever since. All entreaties from our relatives and even our children to make her return home have been rebuffed by her. You see, my wife is a very stubborn woman and is difficult to convince once she has made up her mind about something. 

 "All this happened many years ago and since then, my relatives have been advising me to remarry. But I have not been keen. I have instead focused on my business and making money. 
 "But in the past few years, I have been giving the idea serious thought. The only problem is finding the right woman. Luckily for me, I found her along the road one day, standing by her car which had a flat tyre," he said, smiling at me.
 "Why me, Chief? There are so many ladies out there you could choose from; why did you pick me?" I queried.

  "Good question. I don't know what it is, but as soon as I saw you, I knew you were the one I had been searching for. I know at your age, you will want to marry a young man in your age group. But marrying an old man like me won't be such a bad idea, considering what you will gain. Financial security for life, for instance with all my worldly possessions at your disposal among other perks. I won't rush you, dear. I will give you enough time to think about it, whether here or when we return to Nigeria. Finding you Rosie, hasn't been easy. But I'm prepared to wait for you to make up your mind..."


Will Rosie accept Chief's strange marriage proposal? Don't miss the hot details coming soon!

To be continued...


Names have been changed to protect the identity of the narrator and other individuals in the story.


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