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Thursday, February 22, 2018

Tomorrow Never Ends (Book excerpts) 3

"What did you do that for?" she demanded. At other times, she would have argued with him but she was just too tired for that now.

"Because I see how exhausted you look... like someone who would drop down any minute. I don't want to be accused of working you into a state of fatigue that you'll end up in the hospital.
I've been called all kinds of names, some unprintable. I don't want 'client abuse' or 'slave master' to join the long list."

A little smile curved her lips before she broke out laughing.

"Now that's better!" he remarked, smiling at her, the corners of his eyes crinkling in amusement.
"You can be funny, you know," Oma said when she stopped laughing. 

They sat chatting and drinking for sometime till the bottle was empty. He was about ordering another one but she had had enough.

"I really need to go. There are a few things that need tidying up, people to see..." 

"Alright. But there's something I want you to do for me. A group of friends and I are heading to the beach at Ibeshe on Saturday to unwind. You need to come too to check out the ambience of the place. It might be suitable for the other ad left to be shot," he said.

She thought about it. Since it was work-related, why not?

 "Fine with me. What time will we leave?"


The Sea Beach Village, Ibeshe is a few minutes boat ride from Ijegun Jetty near Satellite Town (on the outskirts of Lagos).

But as Oma alighted from the speedboat and walked into the community, she felt as if she was in another world.

"Wow! A place like this exists so close to Lagos?" she asked in amazement.

Her eyes drank in the scenery- the tall coconut trees growing abundantly everywhere, their long branches bent as the wind whistled through, the houses built with raffia and palm fronds, the aroma of smoked fish, the sharp scent of the sea nearby...

The whole place was quiet with a rural ambience about it that was enchanting. Oma was glad she had worn flats for as she walked, her feet sank into the soft sand, impeding easy movement.

Daniel smiled down at her. "It's my little secret hideaway from all the stress and 'madness' of the city.”

They walked slowly in between the houses before emerging from the canopy of palm trees onto the beach front.

 "Beautiful!" Oma said, her eyes lighting up as she beheld the majestic ocean. She increased her pace so she could get close to the water as quickly as possible.

 The beach, which stretched on both sides as far as the eye could see was largely deserted. That was except for a lone fisherman just coming in with his catch.

Oma closed her eyes, breathing in the slightly salty air from the sea, her spirits light as air, as if free of all the burden that had weighed her down for so long...

They walked down the beach for a while, taking in the sights. From her bag, Oma brought out a small notebook and pen and began jotting down some ideas she felt would be useful for the proposed video shoot. She also took some pictures with a small camera she had brought.

They sat down on the beach while she worked, Daniel intermittently looking at her then at the sea. After a while, he said: "That's enough for today. We are here to chill not work. Let's go."

She followed him, curious as to where he was taking her.

They headed towards one of the buildings on the beach front. It was a fairly large bungalow painted in cream and brown with a green roof. In front was a swimming pool, empty of water.

As they climbed the steps to the wide verandah, a man emerged from the side of the house. He was an elderly man in his late sixties, tall with a regal air about him.

He greeted them both, looking at Oma curiously. "This is Mr Ogih- the caretaker of the property," Daniel said.

"Let me put on the generator. There has been no light since last night," Ogih said. But Daniel told him not to bother yet. "We'll sit here on the verandah for a while and relax. You can put it on later."

The man went inside the house, taking the cooler of drinks and food, Daniel had brought with him from the city.
"When are your friends joining us?" she asked, looking around for the others. "Those guys? They bailed out at the last minute, giving all kinds of excuses."

Oma looked at him a bit suspiciously not quite sure of what to make of that. Then she shrugged and relaxed back in her chair.

Their environment was just too beautiful to waste time arguing over inconsequential stuff, she thought. "How did you get to know about a place like this? It's so close to the city yet relatively unknown," she said.

"The property's actually owned by my late uncle," he disclosed. "The land was given to him by the former Baale of the community many years back. It was in appreciation for the company's donation to the school project in the village.
"He built it as a vacation home, a place to relax once in a while far from the stress of the city, yet so close to town. When he became ill, he spent more and more time here than he did at his home."

 He was silent for a while, gazing faraway into the distance, deep in thought. His thoughts did not seem to be pleasant ones for there was a look of sorrow on his face that was not there some moments before.

From working on the ad campaign, she had heard a few things about the founder of GMK Holdings, Daniel's uncle. How he had started the business over thirty years ago as a small trading company that later diversified into manufacturing, exports, banking and other sectors of the economy. He had no male child, she learnt so he had groomed Daniel, his nephew to take over the business when he passed on.

Since his death five years earlier, Daniel had been running the business, quite successfully considering the company's annual turnover.

 "You miss him?" Oma asked, studying him closely. He turned towards her. "My uncle, you mean? He was a great man. He was like a father to me. He actually brought me up after my own father died when I was in secondary school. My sisters and I have knew no other father except him until his death."

Then changing the subject abruptly, he said: "We are here to relax not dwell on the past. So, what would you like to do? Swim? Play beach ball or what?"

"I'm not in the mood for a swim. I guess I will just chill with my novel and a drink," Oma told him. He did not want to swim either. So they took the cooler to one of the raffia huts on one side of the beach to have their lunch.

There were all kinds of drinks including chilled wine and plenty of food: roasted chicken, turkey, coconut rice, salad and some finger foods and other snacks.

"So much food! Who's going to eat all this?" Oma asked as she inspected the cooler's contents.

"You of course! Who else is here?"

"Hmm. I might have to suspend my diet just for today. This looks delicious."

 She served some of the chicken, rice and salad on plastic plates and they began to eat.

They chatted as they ate, with Daniel asking about her career and other stuff. "I first worked with STB Advertising on leaving school," she disclosed.

 "I was there for about three years. Then the Agency was taken over by a foreign group and some of us decided to leave as the new owners were going to bring in their own people.

“Later, I worked with a couple of other agencies before I decided to go solo."

 "What about your social life? Any boyfriend? FiancĂ©?"

She stared at him for a moment. "That's private. Not for public consumption."

 "I'm your client, not the public," he pointed out, biting into a chicken wing.

"If you must know, I was engaged a few years back. But things didn't work out. I guess I was too focused on my career as he rightfully pointed out to me at the time," she said softly

"Any regrets?" He looked keenly at her.

She shook her head. "None at all. It was a sacrifice I had to make so my company could succeed."

"You are not doing badly," Daniel noted, pausing. "So, what're you doing next weekend?"

“Why do you ask?"

“I have a party, it's a friend's birthday and I need a date. No strings this time!" he quickly said, in reference to his earlier invitation to her to travel with him to Port Harcourt.

She smiled at the memory.

"I was really mad at you that day, you know."

"I could see that! My ears rang for a long time from your stinging retort which I deserved," he said. They both laughed at that.

"So, are you coming or not?" he asked.
She did not see any harm in socialising with him so she accepted.


The party took place at a new bar and nightclub at Lekki. Daniel came to her house to pick her up shortly before nine o' clock.

"You look stunning," he said admiringly, inspecting her from head to toe. She wore a black body con gown with lace detail on the top.

Her creamy brown skin glowed as if polished with glaze and her long, dark hair fell in waves down her shoulders.

He kept staring at her, his eye fixed on her bosom until she stated in a mocking tone: "Hello! You need to stop before your eyes dig holes in my body!"

He shook his head then, and taking her hand, led her to his car. It was one of the few parties Oma had attended in recent times and she really enjoyed herself.

She had been so busy building up her business, socializing had been relegated to the background as a none priority.

Now, the company had stabilized a bit, she intended relaxing a bit more.

 She danced a couple of times with Daniel and his friend, the celebrant. His name was Nosa and he was an old school mate of Daniel.

"You and Daniel seem close," he remarked while they had been dancing. "Are you guys dating?"

"What?" she exclaimed. "What gave you that idea?"

"The way he looks at you, as if you're his woman. I've known Daniel since we were little boys wearing short knickers in secondary school back in Warri. I've never seen him look at a lady that way. So, what exactly are you to him?" Nosa demanded.

Oma sighed. "I thought that was made clear during the introductions. I'm handling his company's ad campaign. So, it's a business relationship," she said patiently as if explaining something to someone who was not too bright.

But he did not seem to be convinced. "It looks as if he would not mind taking it to a more personal level," he rejoined.

"What are you? A mind reader?" she queried, getting pissed with his intrusive questions.

She stopped dancing and was about to walk away when a voice close by stated: "Who's reading whose mind here?" Daniel said as he came up to them.

 He took Oma's hand in his. "You've danced enough with him. By the way, Sylvia's looking for you, Nosa," he said before walking away with her.

"You and Nosa were talking about me, right?" he said when they reached the wide balcony outside the party venue. It was much quieter here and secluded, the sounds of the party reduced to a minimum.

"Yes," she admitted. "He wanted to know if we were dating."

"And your response?"

"The truth. That it's a business connection. Nothing more."
He gave her a quizzical look. "Are you sure about that? There's really nothing more?" As he spoke, he drew closer and closer to her till their faces were just inches apart.

 "Is there?" she queried, looking up at him, warily.

"Yes. There is. This." And his face lowered to hers, his mouth seeking hers in a light kiss that deepened into something stronger by the minute.

 His action took her by surprise and her hands rose instinctively to press against his chest, to push him away. But he was immovable, too strong to budge.

Besides, against her will, her mouth opened up to him, accepting his kiss, the feel of him. His tongue slipped inside her mouth, in a deeper kiss that left her wanting more of him.

He drew her closer to him, his arms holding her by the waist in a tight clinch, while her arms moved to the back of his head, drawing him close.

They stood that way for a while, engrossed in each other, their desire to get even closer, their bodies tighter together, increasing by the minute...

Then a buzzing sound in his trouser pocket, broke the intense moment.

It was his mobile phone.

The sound brought Oma to her senses and she withdrew from his embrace. She stood for a while, trying to gather herself together, to still her heart that had been beating erratically.

 Then she left him, walking quickly away, to put as much distance between them as possible.

She ran down the stairs quickly, hearing him call her name but she did not stop till she got to the car park.

Oma stood between two parked cars, struggling to get her breathing back to normal. What has come over me, she thought.

 How could she have reacted to Daniel that way, even kissing him back! How could she?

Ok, he was very attractive and charming too, when he chose to. But so were many other men around and she had never been drawn to them the way she did to Daniel.

What was it about him? What was it that was pulling them together like an irresistible magnet?

 "No," she muttered to herself. "This can't happen. Must not happen... Just focus- on the job, the contract with his company. Anything else is..."

"Oma!" the voice called from behind her. Turning round slowly, she saw Daniel standing a short distance away. The light from a security lamp nearby reflected on his face, which had a determined look on it.

A few steps and he was standing in front of her...

To be continued
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