BELLA EPISODE 2: In contrast to the long blue satin gown he sent, I appeared at the venue in an overflowing lilac chiffon gown.

Clutched in my arms was a purse to match my silver dropping earrings and my shoes. Lesley, Jeremiah’s PA already hinted that it was a poolside event so I was prepared to walk around a bit more, hence the low heels (nothing compared to the 6-inches he sent).

On my entrance, I spotted a round Spanish-looking man holding his glass of wine so tightly to his chest like it was about to fall. Instantly I knew that was Mr. Rodriquez. Next to him was a young woman about half his age and quiet pretty too. I could tell that she wasn’t his wife as she looked a bit uncomfortable and nervous. With them was Jeremiah holding his very elegant-looking fiancée by the waist.

She was exactly like she looked in the tabloids. Clad in an overflowing red evening gown, she was every bit adorable. Well, he sure knew how to pick the dresses, didn’t he? Instantly a funny feeling came over me: here she was; looking so dazzling, elegant and breathtaking. Maybe I should have worn the dress he sent. My mind started to drift. How could I have expected a kiss when he had this? There was no coming close. To her!

“Not in a million years!” I agreed with my mind.

There was a waiter in front of me with a seemingly moving mouth and it occurred to me that he had been talking to me all along, still smiling. ‘Champagne, madam!’ he seemed to have repeated and this time I heard. Muttering thanks, I picked a glass from the tray and moved towards the array of guests, admiring the vast and crystal clear pool as I walked.

Just as I looked up again towards Jeremiah, I saw his face move toward my direction at the same time; beholding me, his smile faded in an instant and his gaze became more intense. As if to catch himself, he smiled again and this time, signaled to Patrick, his General Manager to come over. Patrick in turn signaled to me.

I walked toward the small group and could hear his voice like the sound of waves.

“Lisa, you remember Mr. Stanford… don’t you? He worked briefly with dad at the Embers Design alongside your dad many years back.’’ He seemed to be referring to a man who appeared to be in his late sixties. The man seemed to have come alone, apparently.

Family connection, I thought. Jeremaiah was smiling warmly with everyone but I noticed the ice directed at me. I smiled as I strolled towards them, clutching my purse ever so tightly. This was the satisfaction I wanted; the same satisfaction he got when he left me standing in the middle of his office pouring juice while I stupidly waited for the kiss that never came.

Ten minutes later saw Mr. Rodriquez laughing excitedly, he wasn’t so difficult to impress after all.

Thank God, my work here was almost over.

“Patrick, remember to work with Isabella and draw up all the necessary documents in the morning. Isabella, I trust you know what to do from there’’. He said, seeming to size me up, he shamelessly was looking at me from top to bottom.

I smiled and tilted my head sideways, “Sure, everything will be concluded by close of business tomorrow. Mr. Rodriquez, expect a copy of the contract first thing on Tuesday morning. Leave the signed document with your secretary, I would come pick it up’’. By now, Lisa had walked away; Mingling with the guests, she was not in sight anymore.

As our little meeting ended, I sighted a road that may probably lead to the rest room, just to the extreme left of the pool. Well, I couldn’t possibly lose my way, could I? The road will lead somewhere. As I walked down, hoping I wouldn’t get lost in what seemed like Wonderland, I saw the backside of the elegant frame I had admired all night entangled in the arms of a seemingly familiar masculine frame, the kiss was deep and fierce, intense and deliberate.

It seemed particularly romantic. The only problem was, the familiar masculine frame didn’t belong to Jeremiah. As Lisa turned to look at the intruder, she froze. I turned and walked away. Thank God I have a toilet at home.

Once home, the first person I thought to call was Ego.

“Ego, put down that popcorn and listen to me!” I almost screamed through the phone. I desperately needed to share my dinner party tale with someone. Having this discussion with Missy was going to be a one-way dialogue and I needed someone to remind me that I wasn’t going crazy.

“Are you sure that was what you saw?” My best friend’s tiny voice echoed in the midst of a mouth full of popcorn. She must have been born to see someone eating popcorn around. ‘What do u mean by that? I only had a glass of champagne’’ I snapped and felt like kicking off her bowl of popcorn over the phone.

“Hmmm! What woman in her right senses would cheat on Jeremiah Young?”

“A woman like Lisa apparently,” I said rolling my eyes.

She had seen me. She knew I saw her. That seemed weird. It even gets worse because she was kissing Jeremiah’s most-trusted employee, Patrick. Such was the height of betrayal.

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This was a messy, messed-up relationship.

The last thing I want to do is get in the middle of it. And I won’t! Ego wasn’t helping; she was taking it all too casually. Even suggested it may have been Jeremiah I’d seen, and I needed to go to bed to clear my head. “You worry yourself too much’’. She said. I shook my head and hissed. So much for wanting adult conversation. Next time, I would consider Missy.

It was 11pm. I had papers to draw up in the morning; safer to get some sleep now. Missy was already sleeping, curled up in my bed. I shook my head as I watched her sleep in my favorite part of the bed. I knew she did that on purpose. Silly cat. Everyone seemed to be silly tonight. Silly and self-absorbed.

Lying face-up in my bed, staring at the ceiling, I played back tonight in my head. Truly, why would anyone cheat on Jeremiah Young? And why was Patrick betraying him in that way? My phone announced a text from Jeremiah.

“The way you left my party last night was extremely polite. I am highly impressed at your level of courtesy. Nice outfit, by the way. You are an extremely expressive woman.’’ I must have read it over and over again because I could now play the words by heart.

I closed my eyes and swallowed hard. For a moment, guilt rushed through me, followed by a sense of pity. I felt terrible altogether. First, I had rejected his gift and flaunted my rejection in his face and next his fiancée was cheating on him with his most trusted employee and cousin.

That was a double blow even though he only knew about one.

How long will it take before he finds out? Poor Jeremiah. All of a sudden, I wasn’t angry with him anymore. Was I really ever angry at him before?

“All you wanted was attention.” Ego had said when I told her about the outfit Attention? Was it because I didn’t put on the outfit he sent and put mine on instead? Remembering the look on his face when he saw me at the party, I let out a mischievous grin which broke into laughter. Missy woke up with a startle.

“Good for you, big-headed cat, as taking your Mistress’ bed space is all you know how to do” Oblivious to my sarcasm, she culled beside me and licked her paws. She then cleaned her eyes and started the bath ritual all over again. I rolled my eyes.

“You had better find a bath, madam. My bed isn’t your bathroom.” She meowed at the same time the phone rang.

Could it be Jeremiah? I dared to wonder as my heart pounded. No, he was too proud to call. I looked at my phone. Lesley Oputa, Jeremiah’s half-caste personal assistant was at the other end of the call. What work do I have to do at this time of the night that can’t wait till tomorrow? A part of me didn’t want to take it, a part of me was curious. Had Jeremiah sent her to deliver a personal, non-work-related message?

You wish, Bella.

“Isabella, sorry for calling this late, orders came from Lisa Momoh. She requests a meeting with you tomorrow by noon at Chocolate Royalé. She says it’s urgent and important.”

Written By:

Oluwatoyosi Adesuyi

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Mysteries of Bella Episode 3