Jumoke held her chest and tried to breathe.
“What’s going on? Jumoke?” Funmi asked worriedly. “How do you know her?”
“I need to use the ladies…” She answered hurriedly, walking away.
Locking herself in a stall and sitting on the toilet, Jumoke gave in to overwhelming tears. Memories of the past assaulted her and she felt every pain, shame and bitterness that she thought she had overcome. She had not forgotten nor forgiven anything.
“No, no, no…” she cried. How could fate place her in such a position? She had always imagined that if she ever saw Lanre or any other of the Williams she would be in a vantage position. She realized with a sinking feeling that she couldn’t face Remi or work with Wilpac, it was simply impossible. How could she sit with Remi and discuss business as if she didn’t feel like strangling her? And what if she asked about Hope, what would she say?
Her phone shrilled and she jumped. It was Bode.
“Bode?” she answered after forcing some composure into her voice.
“Jumoke? What’s going on? Funmi called to say that you freaked out when you saw Wilpac’s COO, want to tell me why?”
“I can’t do this Bode… I can’t do this job!” she cried.
“Woah! Slow down, take a deep breath and tell me what all this is about.”
“Not on the phone.”
“Okay… but you need to get back in there Jumoke. This is our first meeting with them after the contract, we can’t give them a bad impression.”
“Bode, I can’t.”
“Jumoke you know I love you but you also know that I can’t put the business at risk. Suck it up and finish the meeting. When you get back here we can talk.”
“Don’t tell me you can’t do it!”
“You’re just going to ignore how I feel about this…?”
“Brighton Consulting is where it is today because we never back down from a challenge. Take a deep breath, freshen up and finish the meeting! Can I count on you Jumoke?”
She sniffed and replied. “Yes.”
Funmi was pacing the corridor restlessly, wondering what in the world was going on with her boss and how she would explain the situation to anyone who asked. To her relief and surprise, Jumoke walked towards her looking nothing like the person who had hurried off a few minutes ago.
“Are you okay…?” she asked.
“Let’s go in.”
Remi was doing her own pacing in the conference room when they got in, she faced Jumoke and searched her eyes for any message. There was none, Jumoke was completely composed, swiping her fingers on her iPad.
“We’ve come up with some plans that we’d like to run by you…”
Remi stared unbelievingly at her and back at Funmi who shrugged, how was she able to detach herself from the situation?
“If you’d like to sit down… ma’am…?” Jumoke said expressionlessly.
She cleared her throat. “Of course.”
Gbemi was pulling out a sheet of paper from her printer when Remi hurried in. She looked at her sister curiously and wondered what the problem was.
“What is it?”
Remi breathed in and out to steady her nerves. “I might have seen…”
The door opened and Gbemi’s assistant walked in with a brown envelope. “Oh I’m sorry… I’ll come back…”
“No, no, no! Is that the book?” Gbemi asked reaching for the package.
“Yes, it was the last copy they had.”
“Thanks.” She replied gratefully and took the package. “It’s so difficult for people to move on.” She muttered, setting aside the book.
“What is it? Remi asked, momentarily forgetting her own news.
“There’s a guy who’s threatening to sue us for stealing his recipe for the Milkie Crackers.”
“How is that even possible?”
“He used to work here but got fired when his supervisor caught him stealing some of the supplies. And now after two years, he’s claiming that we stole his recipe. I swear people can’t just move on, they’re so stuck in the past! How can he still be after us two years later?”
“Did we steal his recipe?”
“Of course not! Whatever recipe he came up with was done during company time and belongs to us. He signed a contract! I could just ignore him but I’m going to counter sue just for wasting my time with his pettiness!” Gbemi sighed, being the company secretary was much more than she had anticipated.
“I’m sorry I distracted you, what did you want to say?”
Remi suddenly had doubts about what she had come to tell her sister. “Err… it’s nothing. Can we go out tonight?”
“Yeah sure… are you okay?”
“I’ll be fine.”
“Nothing…” she got up. “All the best with your thing.”
Gbemi watched her sister walk away, shook her head and chose to focus on her own problems.
“So you’re telling me Lanre Williams is your baby daddy?”
“Bode this isn’t funny.” Jumoke reprimanded.
“I didn’t mean that as a joke!”
Jumoke put her head in her hands and sighed. “Get someone else to handle this project Bode.”
“You know I can’t do that! You’re the best and I want the best on this project. I’ve got a good feeling about this company, these people are going to be the face of local successful FMCGs!”
Jumoke looked at him in disbelief. “Did you not hear all that I just told you?”
“You’re not going to be meeting with the man everyday…!”
“There’s no way I won’t see him regularly!”
“What do you want me to do?”
“No, you tell me! This is big for the company, I can’t hand this project over to someone less qualified because you might see your ex-boyfriend!”
“Do you want to be my partner or not? Are you going to be like this everytime you see an ex-boyfriend?”
Jumoke shook her head in disbelief. “You are so cold…!”
“I didn’t get here being soft and neither did you. Suck it up, look the guy in the face and do your job! The Jumoke I know is not a coward, show him that you’ve moved on! Do you really want him to think he can still make you weak?”
“You have no right to tell me that!” Jumoke spat at him.
“You might be right about that, but guess what I have a right to tell you? Do your job!”
“Well at least now I know how you really feel about me.” She got up and walked out of the office.
Bode shook his head after she was gone and grabbed a drink from the fridge.
Remi opened the fridge and stared at it. The image of Jumoke’s shock filled her mind. How unpredictable fate was! Jumoke was on top of her game, she had read her LinkedIn profile and seen that time had been good to her. She had probably been to all the countries she had dreamed of when they were girls. But what about the pregnancy, she had found nothing about a child on her Facebook profile? How had the pregnancy affected her family? There were so many unanswered questions and she knew that she couldn’t just let it go, she had to find Jumoke and talk to her.
“Can’t find what you’re looking for?” Lanre said behind her and she jumped.
“Oh my God, you startled me!”
“Why’re you staring at the fridge at two o’clock in the morning?”
“Why are you sitting in the dark at two o’clock in the morning?” She countered.
“You don’t want to know,” she muttered and grabbed a bottle of water.
“Man troubles…?” he teased.
Remi rolled her eyes and made to leave the kitchen.
“Can’t we have a normal conversation Remi? Isn’t it possible for you to forget the past?”
Just as Remi was about to reply him, Toyin, his girlfriend came in.
“Baby… hey Remi!”
“I’m sorry, am I interrupting something?”
“Not at all, I was just leaving.” Remi replied and left the kitchen.
“What was that about?” Toyin asked after Remi had left.
“Why aren’t you in bed?”
She walked over to him, put her arms around his chest and kissed his ears. “Come back to bed and I’ll put you to sleep.”
Lanre smiled. “I’m really not in the mood babe.”
“What’s on your mind?” She asked, sitting on the stool beside him.
“I’m just thinking about Wilpac.”
“I thought you just hired an HR firm to handle things.”
“So why are you worried? You don’t think they can do a good job?”
He exhaled. “I guess I’m just thinking about what Dad would do.”
“Really?” Toyin said doubtfully, cocking her eyebrows.
Toyin smiled and rubbed his earlobes. Lanre wasn’t thinking about what his Dad would do, he simply didn’t want to admit that he was too afraid of failing to sleep.
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