Are you ready for Chapter Two from Bound to Favor?
And I'm sharing from the first 3 chapters.
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As promised, the next instalment from Bound to Favor is here.
Read Chapter One, Part One.
Read Chapter One, Part Two.
Here's Chapter Two, Part One. Enjoy. ❤
Chapter Two - Part One
Was it possible to love something and loath it with equal measure?
From as far back as she could remember Ebun had experienced alternating emotions that swung from one extreme to the other when it came to her relationship with most things in her life—parents, friends, lovers and now, this country, Nigeria.
Sitting in the back seat of an executive car while the chauffeur navigated the crawling line of Friday night Lagos traffic, the question plagued her.
The upside, she didn’t have to drive in the chaotic jam. Not that she would even attempt to drive anyway. When she’d learned to drive, they hadn’t prepared her for Lagos drivers.
The downside, she’d be late to meet her boyfriend, Jonah. She hated being late.
Three years ago she’d signed up for this job away from her home in England. Four thousand miles across the Atlantic Ocean and Sahara desert, she’d swapped freezing cold winters for blazing hot Harmattans.
At first she’d been shocked by the chaos, the mad hustle and bustle of the business world as well as the ‘God-dey’ attitude to life where punishment was left to the supreme being and government was not held to task for its ineffectiveness by the citizens. She’d wanted to go home after a few weeks.
Over time, she had become accustomed to the rhythm of the beautiful mayhem, discovered elegance in the cultural heritage and fallen in love with the entrepreneurial spirit of the locals as well as the glittering nightlife.
Now, she stayed, in no hurry to return to the cold, dreary and boring life she’d left.
Not when she had a chauffeur-driven vehicle as well as a furnished apartment as part of her benefits package. Not when she got to work as the Executive Assistant to the CEO of Danladi Cements.
Kamali Danladi—her tall, dark and handsome boss, his warm hickory skin tone, his piercing tawny eyes and sexy stern voice made him a charm to work for as well as his command of business and professionalism did.
Her stomach flipped and she shook her head, shoving his image away from her mind.
“John, I’m going to get off here and walk the rest of the way,” she said in frustration, when they’d only moved one hundred yards in twenty minutes. “When you get there just park and wait for me.”
“Yes, Ma,” the driver replied, a middle-aged man in white shirt, black trousers uniform.
She opened the door and stepped out into the muggy night, suddenly lambasted by blaring car horns and revving engines. One advantage of being cocooned in the metal, glass and rubber seclusion of a car vehicle, the humming air conditioner muted all the external sounds.
Ten minutes of navigating kamikaze pedestrians arguing with obnoxious bus drivers who were mounting the pavement in a bid to avoid the long queue and perspiration beaded her hairline and pits.
“Uh,” she uttered as she viewed the entrance of her destination. Now she was going to arrive sweating like a pig.
She wasn’t the most athletic person around, her love-hate relationship with food put paid to that notion. Dieting had never worked for her. She would lose weight only to gain it back double what she’d lost.
And don’t get her started on gyms. Those places were designed by narcissists for narcissists. The women at the last gym she’d visited looked like they survived on straw and water not to mention the way they’d looked down their noses at her.
She’d just prayed that none of them had discreetly taken a picture of her sweaty body after she’d finished her workout to post on Instagram or whatever social media they used for their cyber-bullying posts.
She’d seen that happen to other people and would be mortified if it ever happened to her.
The only reason she opened an Instagram account was because her half-siblings had accounts and shared frequently about their fabulous lives. Not that they knew who she was. She used Facebook to keep in touch with old school mates and friends in the UK.
The heel of her platform shoes caught in a gap on the pavement and she raised her arms to steady herself. These shoes weren’t exactly suitable for walking on the uneven surfaces that were Lagos streets.
When she’d lived in London she’d worn sneakers for the train commute to work with her shoes in her tote. She would change into the heels when she arrived at work.
Here, she had been spoilt by being picked up from outside her apartment building and dropped off at the office premises and the reverse being done in the evenings that she’d returned to wearing stilettos from the moment she left home to the time she returned.
Now she wished she’d worn sneakers to save herself from breaking her neck if the reckless Okada bike drivers didn’t kill her first.
At the gated entrance to the restaurant and bar, the security man greeted her. “Good evening, Madam.”
She nodded in response, not wanting to speak so he didn’t hear her panting from her power walk.
Through the floor-to-ceiling glass of the establishment, diners could be seen in the restaurant section and drinkers standing around the bar lounge. Colourful spotlights shone in hue of pink, purple and blue. The place appeared busy, even for a Friday night.
On previous visits, Reams always had a great vibe and crowd and the food selection was also fabulous, a fusion of African and International cuisines.
She approached the swinging glass doors slowly, using the time to catch her breath. She would use the ladies first to make herself presentable before going to search for Jonah.
She pushed the door handle and stepped in. The sounds of merriment—afro jazz and chatter—rushed at her.
“Welcome, Ma’am,” the maitre d’ in black shirt and trousers said. “Do you have a reservation?”
“Hi.” She sighed in relief for the air-conditioning unit positioned directly over the entrance that blew refreshing air on her hot skin. “I’m meeting a friend. Jonah Mills.”
“Yes. Mr. Mills is at the bar. I can show you.”
“Oh, it’s not a problem. I’ll find him in a minute. I’d like to use the ladies first,” she said.
“Sure. Over there.” He pointed to the far corner that has the sign for ‘Toilets’.
She thanked him and hurried through to the corridor and down the stairs. The multihued lighting continued in here and she couldn’t be certain of the colour of the walls. An off-white shade, she guessed.
None of the stalls in the ladies were occupied. She had time to dab the sweat off her forehead with a paper napkin, reapply her face powder and squirt a refreshing body spray onto her hot skin. With a hair brush, she got her relaxed tresses looking sleek and wavy.
Feeling a lot calmer, she headed out. Hopefully Jonah wouldn’t be too irate at her tardiness.
She found him sitting on a stool by the hand-carved dark wooden bar, chatting with two other men she recognised. He must have come straight from work also as he still had his tie around the collar of his white long-sleeved shirt. His friends dressed casually in jeans and t-shirts.
“Babe,” she said in a mollifying tone, draping her arm around Jonah’s shoulders.
He twisted on the stool, saw her, and his smile disappeared. His grey eyes turned to slate, his voice cold. “You’re late.”
“I’m sorry. The traffic out there is murder. I’ll make up for it.” She batted her lashes, hoping to placate him.
She’d had a long day at work. The end of the financial quarter proved to be a hectic period. She’d spent the week analysing reports from all their regions in preparation for the executive team ahead of the board meeting scheduled in a month’s time.
To unwind from the stress, she needed good company, good food and a fun evening.
“You sure are going to make up for it,” Jonah said, turning back to the bar and calling out, “Bar man!”
Ebun puffed out a sigh. It would be one of those nights. She turned to the other men in the group. Perhaps they would be better company. “Hi, Hans. Hi, Pete.”
“Hey, Ebun,” they greeted.
Even after almost a year of knowing the men, they still couldn’t pronounce her name properly, calling her ‘Ee-bun’ rhymes with gun instead of the proper pronunciation of ‘Eh-boon’ rhymes with goon. She’d tried to correct them several times but had now given up.
“You can sit here,” Hans said and vacated a stool.
She thanked him and climbed on, placing her tote on her lap.
He was always the perfect gentleman. Sometimes she wished she dated him. But he hadn’t asked her out. Jonah had. And she’d been attracted to Jonah’s smouldering Latin look.
She’d met all three white European expatriates over a year ago at one of the bars in Lagos. It had been a tough time and she’d been on a downward spiral in her personal life.
She’d come to Nigeria hoping for a reunion with her long-lost father and a welcoming into his family. Instead she didn’t exist as far as they were concerned.
Being in the same country as her father and half-siblings and yet not being included in family events had been depressing, awakening the devastation of being abandoned as a child by her parent.
Old resentments had arisen.
To drown her sorrows, she’d sought out a popular bar for expatriates, needing the alcoholic oblivion and company, a habit from her teen years used as a coping mechanism.
Her family didn’t want her. The rest of the blooming country wouldn’t accept her as a local, even though she looked like a local and had an African name. Her British accent always gave her away. She’d been addressed as JJC, Johnny-Just-Come, once too many, so best to hang out with fellow foreigners.
Not to mention that her mother had warned her against dating African men.
So there she’d been sitting at a music lounge filled with Lebanese, Asian and European men, nursing a vodka and coke. Interestingly most of the women in there had been local girls dressed to seduce.
Jonah had approached her, and offered to buy her a drink. With dark hair, clean-shaven good looks and a slight Mediterranean accent, she’d fallen for his charms. She’d found out he was half Scottish and half Spanish.
He’d introduced her to Pete who was Dutch with short brown hair and hazel eyes, and Hans who had straggly blond hair and a beard that reminded her of Vikings, being Swedish.
Copyright Kiru Taye 2018
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You need to read Bound to Ransom at least before you read Bound to Favor, otherwise you might be confused by what's going on.
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