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“Oh mum, it is not as bad as you make it sound” Alexander complained bitterly on the phone as she listened to her mum.
“Alexa, I am not making a request. I want to see you here. I give you two days to put things in order, but not more than that, do you hear me? Even though you think you are a woman now, I still need to monitor you, do you understand me? This house is big enough for so many people; I see no reason why you can’t stay here”
“You don’t trust me Mum; that is the reason why you want me there”
Belina Branson sighed over the phone. “Sweetheart, I am your mother, it is my duty to ensure that you have the right training. I am not giving in to this cheap blackmail you are putting up. I want you here in two days, period”
Alexander swallowed. “Mum, do you know that I am not a kid anymore? I am twenty two for Christ’s sake, why must I still live under my father’s roof?”
“You would still be under your father’s roof if your father hadn’t allowed you to take an apartment, despite my disapproval. Female children ought to stay in their father’s house, and even though you think you are a big woman now, you are just twenty two and still need your mother”, she paused. “Do you have anything to hide? Is that why you don’t want to stay close to my prying eyes?”
“Of course not, but-”
“Fine then, it is settled. Two days”
Before Alexander could reply, her mum had hung up. She stomped her foot hard on the floor. “Aaaarrrhhhh” she groaned in frustration. Her mum just knew how to have her way. Being in her old house had a lot of benefits, too many to count, but the freedom of having a house to herself would be out. Of course she would be free in her parents’ house but it could not be compared to living on her own. But even though the prospect of living with her parents’ was not so welcome, she was looking forward to the girls’ time she always had with her mother, the pampering she would get from her father, the honest words of advice that they both had to offer… Maybe it was not a bad idea. Thinking about it, Alexa discovered that she really needed her mum. She could claim that she was a woman but she actually enjoyed being babied once in a while. Though Alexa would brag to all her friends that her man – Michael – always spoils her and treats her like a queen, the truth was that Michael had become too engrossed in his work that she was starting to feel neglected. Even after she had done the unthinkable about two months ago and had given up her virginity, the situation seemed to worsen. The flowers which Michael sent recently looked pitiful and most times, he did not call until she did.
She picked up her phone and dialed a number. She sighed as she waited.
“Hello baby” came a deep masculine voice. She sighed audibly. Alexa needed no one to tell her why her mum loved her husband so much. He was the perfect man. The type of man that every woman prayed for; the type of man she wished to God that Michael was. If wishes were horses…
“Hello daddy” she cooed in her innocent father to daughter voice.
“How are you teddy? I have missed you”
“Oh dad. I have missed you too”
“Are you OK?”
Alexa had expected this. Even over the phone, her dad knew exactly when her voice sounded off. “Dad, mum told me to come back to the house. I love it here”
“Oh baby, your mum misses you a lot. I have seen it in her eyes. Your mum was right; you never should have taken an apartment. She needs her daughter close to her. You can’t tell me that you don’t miss us”
Oh, the emotional tactic! Her dad was an expert at playing at women’s emotions, knowing that once he could reach a woman’s emotional tank, he could get whatever he wants. “Of course I miss you dad”
“So, what is the problem baby? At first, I wanted you to have the freedom you wanted but now, I just miss you. Also, your mother is right; you should be with us. Your brother is a man, he can handle himself but you are a woman. How is Michael doing?”
Trust her dad to change the subject when he was trying to put a full-stop to a particular issue. Getting on her dad’s bad side was something Alexa always avoided because, even though he was the sweetest dad in the history of fatherhood, he could be a disciplinarian when pushed. This time though, Alexa did not like this substitute topic. “Michael is fine dad, his company is really booming” she responded.
“Oh, Alexander, do you forget that I have known you from day one and know when you are hiding something from me. Did that scumbag hurt you?”
Getting her dad to accept that she was in a relationship had been so hard, but after so many tears and endless confessions of how Michael was ‘the air she breathed’, her dad finally laid down his guard. “He did not dad” she said simply.
For some seconds, there was silence. “I expect you to arrive exactly when your mum said you should, do you understand?” the petting tone was gone, replaced by a fatherly command.
“Yes sir” Alexa said quickly.
The conversation ended some seconds later and Alexander knew undoubtedly that there was no escape route.
Michael sat preoccupied with his laptop. All his days just seemed to be overloaded with so much work. He heard a knock but before he could get the liberty to invite the intruder in, the door opened and in came his personal assistant with a tablet in her hand. He could not remember ever seeing her without it.
“Since you would never wait for an answer, why do you waste valuable seconds knocking?” Michael asked as he stared blankly at her.
“Courtesy sir” Anita replied. “It is part of the staff’s rules and regulations. If I recall sir, we ought to knock but it was not specified if we had to wait for a response. I guessed that that part was optional” she smiled sweetly.
Michael raised a brow. Anita was dressed in her usual micro office suit skirt, but this one she had on was army green in colour with a butter coloured shirt which clung to her body. At first, Michael had thought that Anita would be far better in a modeling firm instead of a telecommunications industry but after she had proved her dependence, he could not imagine ‘Tel’ without her.
“Cool, so how may I help you Anita? I am sure you did not come here to tell me what was omitted in the staff’s commandments.”
“Of course not sir. I have sent the mail you asked me to send to Brimlight enterprises but I am yet to get a response. Also want to remind you of the call you ought to make in the next ten minutes to Mr. Francis about the ongoing contract”
“Yeah yeah” Michael murmured. He had forgotten all about Mr. Francis. “Thanks for reminding me, I had forgotten all about that”
“It is my job to remember”
Michael smiled. “And you do that job perfectly.” He glanced at his laptop and Anita turned to leave. “Have you ordered flowers for Alexander?”
Anita almost snorted but caught herself in time. “I did that two hours ago” she replied without looking at Michael.
“Thanks” Michael murmured, going back to work.
Belina sat comfortably in her office. The Bell shopping complex was booming with life and everyday she spent in her office, she marveled at the level of patronage she now had. She had just finished going through the stock again and she was very happy that everything was intact. Her sales girls were doing well and were very loyal. She had become attached to the sales girls, to the extent that they were like daughters to her. In as much as she loved them a lot, she still missed her daughter. Her desire to have Alexander back home was different though. Belina had felt uncomfortable with Alexander’s move from day one, but due to Richard’s pampering, Alexa got what she wanted. She had started feeling anxious but the cause of her discomfort was not known to her. All she could say for a fact was that something was wrong; very wrong. All she could do was hope and pray that nothing had happened yet. She could not wait to have her daughter back.
“Lina” she heard as her office door opened.
“Oh Pric”, Belina murmured and stood up. “It is so good to see you”, she said smiling.
“If Mohammed would not go to the mountain, the mountain would obviously go to Mohammed” Prisca said with mock seriousness.
Belina laughed. “If I remember correctly, I am Belina, not Mohammed. When did you become a mountain”, she gave Prisca half a hug and kissed her cheek.
“Since you refused to come and see me” Prisca responded with a frown.
“Oh, I am sorry Pric, it has been really hectic”
They both sat down and Belina pulled out a pack of juice from the fridge, with two glasses. She filled both of them and Prisca took hers unceremoniously.
“Patricia is coming back to Nigeria” Prisca stated with a soft smile.
Belina’s eyes widened. “That is great. I have missed her. She has been off for too long, how do you cope?”
“It hasn’t been easy, you know. Not knowing what she is doing most of the time. Although she has the right upbringing, she is in a foreign land. Has been there for more than three years, you know these white men now, they are too… too wayward. I am just glad that she would be back home”
Belina swallowed softly. “Something worried you, right?”
Prisca sighed. “I just hope that the Patricia that returns is my daughter, you know? I don’t know what to expect. We talk from time to time, but I am still worried that she might come back with some ideologies that I won’t tolerate.”
“Pric, trust what you put in her for more than twenty-one years. No strange land would be able to change her so much within three years. Yes, there is bound to be some minor changes, but I don’t think it is anything to worry about.” Belina reasoned but thought of her worries about Alexander and internally chastised herself. She was here counseling Prisca about trusting her daughter but she herself could not do the same. It is natural for a mother to be worried, she thought. “I am happy that she is coming back home though, it makes you keep an eye on her”
“She should be married by now, but whenever I ask her about a man, she gives one lame excuse or the other.”
“Not everyone likes to share their relationship life, even with their mother.” Belina defended. “When she gets back, you should be able to cough out some information”
Prisca frowned thoughtfully. “I hope so”
Felicia paced the tastefully furnished apartment in expectation. She had a glass of alcoholic wine in one hand and a cigarette in the other. She dragged on the cigarette, releasing the smoke into the air. After relinquishing the ashes in the ashtray, she sipped the drink.
Her phone vibrated and she checked the message. A slow smile lit her features as she read it.
“First mission accomplished” she murmured.