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After sitting for over an hour across the table from Maxwell, Amara could undoubtedly say that she was fed up. The fake smile she had glued to her face was becoming faker by the second and the worst part was that the man responsible for her misery did not even seem to notice. She had gone there for business and despite the fact that she had noticed Maxwell’s unbelievably handsome features, which was the limit to her bodily inspection. For the past hour, all she had wanted was to get down to business, seal the contract and get out of the office, but the man in question seemed to have another thing planned. Amara could almost categorically say that she hadn’t said ten complete words ever since she sat down, all she had been doing was listening to him. Every time she tried to point out that they were not discussing what she came there to discuss, he would bring up another topic. And what were they discussing? He had definitely been talking about himself ninety percent of the time, and the other ten percent was loaded with talks about the company and politics. Amara could swear she heard him mention something about weather. She vaguely wondered how someone so handsome could talk so much. She sighed silently as his voice echoed in her head, without actually hearing him. It was just a matter of seconds before her patience finally expires.

“You are not listening to me” she suddenly heard and she lifted her eyes to Maxwell Babs.

“Am i?” she murmured vaguely as she stared coldly at Maxwell. “If you probably realized sir, I have been in your office for more than one hour and we have not discussed my reason for coming here. I have other appointments” she said and was glad for once that he did not interrupt her.

Maxwell smiled and Amara wondered if she had seen him frown at all. “That is probably because there is nothing to discuss” he removed a file from the drawer and passed it to her. “That contains everything you need to know, you can forward the bill to our mail and I would have it transferred to your account. I have seen your works, I don’t need more conviction” he said confidently with a pleased smile on his face.

Anger bubbled up in Amara and she spoke without thinking. “So, since you know that, why did you waste about two hours of my time?” she asked. He seemed too relaxed and Amara found this so annoying.

“Well, I thought you might want to know a bit about the company so that you can portray the essence of Bracket with your designs” he said simply.

Amara almost pointed out that what he had been talking about had been himself and not the company but she bit it back in time. “You are probably right” she dropped icily.

“But I can see that you are in haste. Did I bore you?” he asked suddenly.

“Of course not” she lied. “I just have other appointments” she said, standing up instantly, relieved beyond measure. Just thinking of the date made her wonder if sitting here with Maxwell was not a better option. “Thanks for the contract Mr. Babs, we would definitely make the event an unforgettable one” she said, officially closing the meeting by stretching her hand for a handshake.

He stood up with his smile firmly in place and shook her hand, holding a little too long and far too tenderly. Amara pulled her hand away. “I am sure you will. Have a nice day” he said.

“And you too sir” she said immediately and with that, she turned, leaving the office as fast as possible.

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Mrs. Bello walked down the sloppy street as the sun faded into the clouds, providing a cool glow. She had on a black velvety gown which swept the ground at her feet as she took slow measured steps down the street. Her low pricey slippers clicked mildly on the cold floor as she padded through. She got to the lonely bench at the end of the street and cautiously lowered herself onto it. The cold from the bench seeped past her gown, connecting with her skin, but she ignored it, contented with the peace she found there. The bench was placed under a shady tree, providing protection against the sun and giving the atmosphere a cool feel. Over the years, she had made a habit of coming here because the place gave her a sense of peace which she desperately longed for.

Mrs. Bello leaned backwards to rest her back against the trunk of the massive tree, closing her eyes as tension slowly oozed away. It had been six years, years loaded with pain, regrets and loneliness. She had lost everything: her husband, her son and her daughter. No one wanted anything to do with her and even though she still lived with the senator – her husband – they were practically strangers. They never spoke apart from the occasional greetings which her husband barely answered. Somehow, getting a divorce would have been better but the senator would not give her a divorce. All her apologies fell on deaf ears and she was left to live like a stranger in her own house even though she had access to all the fine things she desired. But then, the forgiveness and love of her husband and son was what she wanted above all. Alex had gotten married to Lisa and hadn’t invited her to his wedding. Even when Lisa had given birth to a baby girl, she hadn’t been allowed into the naming ceremony.

Katherine Bello wiped the lone tear that streaked down her cheeks. She had no idea where she could find her daughter. Maybe if Amara could forgive her, the remaining people would have mercy; but that seemed the most impossible. If she were in Amara’s place, she doubted she would ever have forgiveness for the woman who tossed her into the trash. I have lost everything, she thought bitterly. She had made too many mistakes in her life, some of which were still hidden, and she knew undoubtedly that those mistakes would haunt her for the rest of her lonely years.

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Amara got to Confidence Plaza twenty three minutes past five. She sighed. This has got to be the worst day of the year, Amara thought vaguely. Maxwell had been so annoying and tiring. She always knew that men loved to talk about themselves but then Maxwell had seemed like he was advertising himself, showing her just how good and irresistible he was. She found that totally annoying and now, she had to face a date! Her phone rang and she stared at the caller. She swallowed heavily and picked up. “Hey Tina” she said.

“Babe, are you there yet?” she asked with a smile seeping through her voice.

“Well, I am currently at the gate” she said simply.

“Really? Ok, have fun” she said

“Don’t count on it” Amara responded and hung up. She stared at the plaza. It is not too late to turn back, she told herself as she stared hesitantly at the large building. Shaking her head, she moved into the plaza and sighted a security officer. “Please I am going to the eatery” she said and the man pointed at the elevator, telling her to go to the third floor. She murmured her appreciation and moved stiffly towards the stairs.

Seconds later, the door chimed, opening up to a very classic eatery and Amara walked in with her heart beating wildly in her chest. She sternly told herself that there was nothing to be scared of but her heart would not just slow down. She scanned around for table 27 and noticed it some footsteps away from her with the aid of the tags hung on the ceiling. She saw a man seated there with his back to her and she swallowed hard, trying to regulate her breathing. She was still in the same clothes she wore to Mr. Babs’ office. The black skirt suit and sky blue shirt she had on was not something any other person would wear to a date, but then she reckoned that the suit was perfect. The guy seated there also had on a black suit, making it seem as though they were going to discuss business. She sighed again in an effort to calm herself then took in a deep, much needed breath as she got to the table. She pasted the biggest fake smile she could muster on her face as she turned to the man, but her smile froze and vanished immediately she saw the person seated there. You must be kidding me! She gaped.

“It is nice to meet you again Amara” Maxwell Babs murmured with a pleased mischievous smile 

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Alex entered his sitting room with a heavy heart, not knowing what he would meet. His house was always hotter than a boiling kettle most of the time and when it was otherwise, it would be cold as ice. Right now, he would prefer cold as ice because he was completely exhausted. He sat down on the couch heavily with his head dropping against the backrest of the chair. Where is this woman? He wondered vaguely, hoping that by some sheer miracle, she had decided to visit a friend. That was not to be anyways because he instantly heard her fast footsteps in his direction.

“You are here! Very good” she declared, advancing with menacing steps. Alex swallowed hard as she materialized before him, shaking with fury. Alex closed his eyes briefly, regretting for the umpteenth time, the decision to marry Lisa. “You better open your eyes o. Today, it is either I kill you or you kill me because someone would die here” she yelled and flung some pictures at him. Immediately he saw the pictures, he knew that all hell would be let loose today and for the rest of the month. Due to the frustrations he encountered at home, his friends had advised that he seek satisfactions from other women and he had found himself engaging in threesome with two ladies, taking pictures all the way. He had kept those pictures hidden but there was definitely nothing hidden where Lisa was involved.

“Who are those sluts?” she screamed, holding his shirt in her fists and shaking him with all her might until she had him dragged out of the chair. “Who are they? Are you deaf?”

Alex decided to brazen it out. “That is none of your business. Who gave you the right to search my room?” he barked.

“Eeeeehhhhhh…” she clapped her hands in bewilderment. “See this man ooo, you don’t know anything; by the time I am through with you, you would not have the mouth to ask me foolish questions. I said, who are they?” she yelled with her voice ringing in the air as she squeezed his shirt, choking him.

“Woman, leave my shirt this minute” he roared in anger.

“Or what? You are going to beat me?” she asked and laughed hysterically. “Beat me now” she yelled. “Beat me, shameless man”

The sound of tears reached their ears and they turned to see their six years old daughter crying as she sat at the foot of the stairs. “Please… stop fighting…” she pleaded, crying profusely.

Lisa glared at Alex and left his shirt. “You see what you have caused? Can you see? You better go back to the place you are coming from because this house would not contain the both of us” she spat and went to take her daughter. “Come with mummy Pamela” she said, storming away and dragging her crying daughter along.

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“You? I came here to meet you?” Amara asked, bewildered, as she stared at Maxwell Babs.

“Are you not one lucky woman? You get to see me twice in one day” he said with a grin.

No, this was not making any sense, Amara thought. She had thought having a handsome man as a date would be a bit of a consolation, but it turned out that she would rather be with the ugliest man on earth currently. And why did he not seem surprised? He had definitely known that she was the one he was meeting. She was the only blind one in this stupid date, she thought in annoyance.

“Why don’t you sit down” he said, looking around to tell her that people were beginning to stare. Amara stiffly lowered herself onto the seat, facing him coldly.

“Why did you arrange this?” she asked, wondering if he connived with Tina in order to bring her here. 

He smiled. “What better way do we have to get to know each other?” he asked.

“I think you have told me more than I desire to know about you” she returned, hoping to get him angry. Who knows, he might do her the favour of leaving in anger, saving her the stress of another boring discussion.

“Well, I intentionally told you all there is to know about me in the office” he acknowledged.

“You did?” she asked, trying to keep her anger down.

“Yes” he smiled. “So that I could have this time to hear all there is to know about you” he said smoothly, bringing on his charm.

Amara stared back at him, not knowing a single polite answer to give to that. She did not know if that response was even flattering or annoying, so she said, “there is nothing worth knowing about me”

He raised his brow. “Oh no! I don’t think so. I mean, I know that your life would not be half as interesting as mine because I have had a pretty interesting life, right from day one, but then, I would still like to hear it, however boring you think it is”

Amara frowned and glared at him. This has got to be the most annoying man in the world!

 

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