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Silence stretched out like the third mainland bridge as almost everyone looked on with extreme horror written over their features. Even Alexander who has thrown the bomb hadn’t anticipated this level of stunned disbelief from people. It was as if they could not imagine her supporting Michael, even when it was obvious to all that she ‘was’ his girlfriend. For a complete minute, no one spoke a word.
“Well, I guess the winner is obvious and we can all go back to our various jobs”. Patricia was the one who spoke. She had an amused look on her face as she stared at everyone. John Coker seemed to have been robbed of oxygen. He looked pale and older than he initially looked when the meeting began. Patricia glanced at all the pale faces of the shareholders and noticed that they were similarly pale. Anita, who was writing the scores looked like the heaven was about to fall on her head. She stared at Alexa with something close to disbelief and disappointment written all over her.
This seemed particularly awkward to Patricia because she had checked the net for Michael’s performances as the head of ‘Tel’ before the gay scandal and she had seen that he was a good employer. If Pat expected someone to support Michael, it had been his assistant who always sang his praises. Patricia knew without a doubt that something was fishy especially with almost everyone against Michael.
Pat finally looked at Michael. He looked as unreadable as usual but she sensed a look of pain on his face and clenched jaw as he stared ahead, occasionally glancing at Alexa.
“You can’t be serious Miss Branson” John Coker finally got the voice to say.
“Why shouldn’t I be?” Alexa threw back. She knew that Michael had shattered her life but she would not stand back and watch this happen. Her parents did not teach her to engage in extramarital affairs and neither did they teach her to take vengeance. Since she had stupidly violated the first, she would not compound the problem by taking revenge in a fit of anger.
“I’m sorry, what I meant to say is, you can’t seriously entrust the future of this company into Michael’s hands”. John argued white faced.
“What assures me that you would be better?” Alexa questioned. “I have at least known Michael’s ability and he hasn’t made me regret the shares I have in this company.”
“But… But he is gay” Mr Robert said and Alexa cringed slightly.
“And what makes Mr John straight?” Pat chipped in calmly. “They are cousins, so if Mr Michael is gay, there is every possibility that Mr John here is also gay. It is probably a family trait”
“Nonsense” John bellowed, outraged.
“Now, even if Mr Michael here is gay, I still can’t see how that applies to the company. This is not a ‘straight sexuality promotion enterprise’, I am sure this company is into telecommunications. The disquiet would go after some weeks” Pat supplied.
“I would appreciate it if someone noticed my presence in this room” Michael said in a deep calm voice that sent silence into the room effortlessly. “I never knew I was hated so much in my own company; it must speak volume about my leadership abilities.”
Alexander watched as everyone seemed to squirm and she could not take it. It had been really difficult sitting in the same room with Michael, defending him even when he didn’t deserve it. She pushed her chair backwards and stood up. Michael’s eyes instantly shot to hers. She instantly answered the unspoken question. “I am done here, I need to leave” she already felt like crying. Michael called her name as she exited the conference room but she did not answer or stop. Michael instantly stood up and followed Alexa.
After about five seconds of silence, Pat stood up with a dry smile on her face. ” This day has been so interesting, don’t you all think?” No one answered her. “Do you know what seems funny? The fact that none of you voted for Michael Coker. And why were you all so surprised that he won?” She looked down at all of them, turning to John Coker. “Anyways, I am sure you were all just thinking about the future of the company, weren’t you?” Patricia said sweetly
Michael grabbed Alexa’s hand, effectively stopping her. Michael could not even explain what was going through him. The conspiracy in the conference room had been so obvious as they all connived to take the company which had been given to him by his dad. Michael had experienced shock when Alexa had given him her vote and even defended him. Michael had been taken to a place where he had never been before and right there, Michael felt what it would have been like if he had a mother. As she stood up, everyone faded and he just wanted to explain to her just how much he appreciated her. He would have been shattered if the company had been pulled out if his arms. It was the only thing that made sense in his life. When she had left the room, he decided to do what he had never done – he went after her.
“Please wait Alexa” Michael said.
Alexa turned like a robot. “What is it again? you have the company”
“I can’t thank you enough Alexa, I never knew you would support me” he said and swallowed.
She smiled bitterly. “I didn’t do it for you, I did it for my child. I can’t tell my child that I crushed his father’s life by giving his company to someone else”
Michael looked as pale and frozen as the pillar of salt. “What are you saying?” He croaked.
“Exactly what you heard, I am having your baby, but don’t worry. You don’t have to do anything, I can take care of myself because I surely have more than enough resources and I am absolutely not ready to be a second wife. How did you hide your marital status?” Alexander swallowed and looked at Michael’s white face. “I understand, I was just a beautiful face to hang around like a furniture” she turned and quickly entered the elevator.
“What?” Felicia’s voice rang out like a siren in her tastefully furnished sitting room. “How did this happen Sophia?” She bellowed and the ashes of the burning cigarette in her hand fell to the tiled floor. “I said it then that the identity of the last shareholder should be found out so that we won’t have to depend on probabilities.” Felicia paced in anger then froze. “What did you say Sophia? She is what? Oh no, the father of the thing in her tommy should better be someone else and not Michael because if it is, my snare would be worse than the devil’s. I swear it”
Alexa left the ‘Tel’ building and walked to the road. Her mind was so occupied that she took out her phone immediately it rang and picked it up without even looking at the caller’s name. “Hello”
“Dad?” She said with a gasp.
“Young woman, I want to see you in my office in the next thirty minutes and I mean it. Next time you conceive the stupid idea of running from home, be sensible enough to take your car with you. Thirty minutes”
He hung up before Alexa could say anything and her heart started racing as she flagged down a taxi. “Best Results”
Patricia saw Michael walking to his office and instantly followed him. He really seemed in a bad mood. All the times she saw him, he always kept his emotions carefully hidden but now, it was very obvious that he was furious. He entered his office and she entered and closed the door noiselessly without saying a thing. He went to stand, facing that massive glass behind his chair. It reminded her of the day she had barged into his office. She sat on the chair and waited. As Michael gazed at the world through the glass, Patricia felt that he loved standing there because viewing everything from up there made him feel on top of the world. After minutes silence and Patricia almost felt forgotten, Michael spoke. “What do you want?”
“How about an explanation of what you did to everyone to make them hate you so much?”
“Does it look like I know?” He growled.
“Hey, this is what I call ‘transfer of aggression’. Don’t sacrifice me because someone upset you”
Michael swallowed and turned. “I am sorry. Thanks for getting me out on bail, you really do have connections. And for your vote as well”
She smiled. “It is good we agree on something.” She murmured. “Care to talk about what Alexa did to make you so angry?”
“No. I would rather not”
She smiled. “I would still find out anyways”.
Michael smiled for the first time. “I don’t doubt that”
Patricia looked at him for some seconds then instantly stood up. “Well, I would be back tomorrow, I have an assignment remember? I would leave you to enjoy your victory”
Patricia stopped at the door and looked at him. “If you love Alexa, it is better you go after her. Believe me, you can’t find someone like her”
Alexander stopped at the door and stared at her dad. She did not have the courage to go him. “Would you stay there? Bransons don’t run from their problems, Alexa, stop this childishness” Richard scolded.
Alexa ran to her dad and held his legs with her head on his lap. “I am sorry dad, please forgive me”
For some time, Richard said nothing, then later, he raised her. “I won’t say anything until I have personally done the test. The pregnancy test”. Alexander swallowed.
After thirty minutes, Richard entered his office again and sat, looking betterthan he had when he left. “How did you know that you were pregnant?”
“I tested myself, I used the stick, two sticks.”
Richard nodded. “I don’t know what happened to the sticks you used, either they are fake or they were expired because this test result tells me that you are not pregnant”.