BELLA EPISODE 7: JEREMIAH’S ENQUIRY
I made up my mind not to be late for the Heads of Departments/Senior Executives meeting the next day. What good was it to be late for a meeting twice in two days?
I was seated at my desk by 8:45am trying to review what would be expected of me at the meeting. It took great effort to concentrate as I still couldn’t get over the event that took place in the lift the previous day. This morning, I had taken the stairs instead of the lift, afraid I might run into Jeremiah again. My legs and thighs had me to blame for it. As I trudged up the stairs of Edgewood, I wondered what Jeremiah thought of me. He had apologized for what happened but it still didn’t change the fact that I ran out of the lift like a baby. I was too embarrassed to get over it.
Now, I dreaded the meeting that was to take place in a few hours. I knew the room would be filled with lots of emotions and expressions from various parties but I had resolved to stay balanced. I will be as composed as can be this morning, so help me God.
By 10am, I stepped into the meeting room only to find every one already seated… Everyone but me! I blinked and stopped in my tracks. Looking at the artistic clock that hung on the white wall, I realized I was ten minutes off the mark! My wrist watch had sold me out! Grrrrh! So much for avoiding being late twice in two days. If there ever was an award for the consistently late staff in Edgewood, then it’s time to make way for the queen.
I looked at the traitor watch on my wrist and then back to the sea of faces staring at me. Thank God I looked good. My effort to look particularly good this morning didn’t go to waste, after all. What was that they said about making the most of every situation?
Jeremiah was at the head of the table and had just taken his eyes off his tab to look up at me; closely to his left was Lisa fondling with her pen with her eyes intensely on me. Beside Lisa was a vacant seat which I assumed was for me. I wondered why there was a gap between her and Patrick who apparently would be seating to my right.
Great! I would be seating in between the great traitors of our time!
“Good morning, Miss Meyer,” Jeremiah’s deep voice echoed as he gestured towards the vacant seat obviously left for me.
“Good Morning, Mr. Young,” I replied as I walked to my seat. Then it occurred to me that I had to greet everyone. I could still feel their eyes following me as I took my seat in-between the secret couple. “Good Morning, everybody.” My own voice in contrast to the deep voice that preceded it.
I didn’t bother to confirm who answered or who didn’t but I managed to sense the discomfort that my presence gave Lisa and Patrick; what’s more, I was sitting right between them. Lisa continued to fiddle with her pen. Looking down, I could see she had already taken off her shoes leaving her neatly manicured feet at the mercy of the cold tiles. To my right, Patrick just continued to swipe away at his tab; I could only wonder what he was doing because he kept swiping at every opportunity he got.
I smiled. For a minute I felt I had so much power. The smile, however was short-lived when I looked up to Jeremiah who by now was looking round the room, with a professional smile on his face.
When it came to this man, I didn’t particularly feel powerful.
“Apparently, not everyone survived the restructuring, and a few of people present here are new.” Looking round, he continued “I am glad we are all present here today. I would like us to introduce ourselves and state what positions we occupy. I understand that we may not be particularly familiar with one another. So, I’ll go first. My name is Jeremiah Young and I am the MD/CEO and a member of the board of directors.”
Fifteen in all, we introduced ourselves. Patrick was now the Head of Accounting in Edgewood; but then I wasn’t surprised. He was Jeremiah’s second cousin and his fiancée’s lover; either way, scaling the ladder of positions won’t be difficult, would it?
The meeting took longer than expected; it seemed everyone had something to say. I was quite active until I started to get bored. Now, all I did was look at everyone else as they spoke. I’m not particularly sure I hid the relief on my face when it was over.
Back in my office, I pounced on the sandwich I had made from home hungrily. I heard the knock on my door but chose to ignore it. For a moment there, I thought I was home where I could choose to ignore a knock when I wasn’t prepared for any guest hoping the guest would go away.
Only that now, Jeremiah was the guest. I froze with the last piece of sandwich in my mouth as he opened the door that led to my office. “I wonder if I am invited to breakfast.” He announced his entrance, strolling in with hands in both pockets.
“I won’t exactly call it breakfast as we spent all morning at the meeting, remember?” I replied, sipping my tea and trying to gain composure.
“Yea. Well, sorry that took a while. Subsequent meetings won’t be that long,” he said as he looked around.
Then he continued, this time with eyes on me “How do you like your new office? I don’t think I have officially welcomed you to Edgewood.”
Apart from the crisis management text you sent, you haven’t, I was tempted to say but instead I replied with “I love the office, thank you.’’
He sat down opposite me. Still looking at me, he smiled. “I am glad you like it, and I hope you are comfortable here.”
Well, how can I be comfortable when you stare at me this way, Jeremiah? I thought and I was about to roll my eyes when I suddenly remembered that singular act was what led my fleeing the lift yesterday and decided against it. So, I simply nodded.
“Isabella, I would like to ask you something and I would appreciate honesty.’’ He started, looking serious all of a sudden.
Oh my God, he knew! I swallowed.
Then I stopped to think “Knew what exactly, and how much did he know?” There were so many things I was hiding from him. One of which was that I had feelings for him and another was that I knew that Lisa was cheating on him with Patrick. I stared at him.
He tilted his neck slightly sideways. “Are you okay?’’
“Yes I am’’ I replied trying to get myself. “What would you like to ask me?”
Dear Lord, let it not be about Lisa and Patrick or even me.
“Before now, had you and Lisa met? Apart from our engagement party, of course.”
I wasn’t sure where this was headed. It definitely wasn’t the question I was expecting; although, it still had Lisa in it.
“No, why do you ask?’’ I picked up my cup of tea and started to take it towards my mouth. That would serve as a good distraction for me… Buy me some time to think.
“Nothing, never mind,” came his cold response.
What do you mean never mind? I screamed from inside. I wanted to know why he asked that question and at the same time, I didn’t want to push, lest I give anything away.
“Okay, I hope there isn’t a problem though,” I said, still struggling to remain calm.
“No, none whatsoever!’’ came yet another cold response.
“I haven’t congratulated you on the engagement,’’ I said matter-of-factly.
“Oh, that…thanks,” he said nonchalantly as he got up and walked away; out of my office, nearly slamming the door behind him.
I stared at the closed door. He clearly was upset, but about what in particular?
I drove straight to Ego’s house after work that evening. She still hadn’t gotten over the news of my new car and was bustling with excitement to finally see it. She saw me from the corridor and I could see her scream, throwing her fist in the air as I drove towards her apartment. In no time she had rushed down and outside her gate. Amazing thing was that she had no pair of slippers on!
“Come down from this car and let me get in!” She said as she dragged my hand and pulled me out. I had barely gotten out before she entered and sat on the driver’s seat gripping the steering wheel with both hands like her life depended on it. As she was blaring the horn, she was turning on the music, closing the door and driving away. All in one breath!
I opened my mouth as I watched her drive off, down into the street. I still had my mouth open in utter amazement when I saw her drive back down two minutes later.
“Babe, did you say this Jeremiah guy is engaged?” She said as she came out of the car. I eyed her and shook my head.
“Jeremiah didn’t buy me this car, his company did. Besides, I am working for everything I own”
“Babe, forget it. I know people that have been working for years and still don’t have a beetle. This is massive.” She said still looking at the car, going round it in utter amazement.
“Please, I am hungry. Let’s go inside.” I said, picking my bag from the car and locking it.” All I had inside me today was the sandwich I was having when Jeremiah entered my office [uninvited] as well as the cup of tea that turned cold after he asked the question about Lisa.
“Go inside. I was just about to heat up some rice in the microwave when you called that you had entered my street. In the meantime, please give me the keys to this car. I am not done with it.” She replied, still not taking her eyes of my Toyota Sedan. I eyed her from head to toe and shook my head.
“It’s not only keys. At least have the decency to put on bathroom slippers when you are coming out of your house, madam” I said going inside her compound as I put the car keys into my bag.
A reluctant Ego followed as we climbed the stairs and entered into her apartment. I went straight to heat up the meal in the microwave while Ego poured me some juice. She gave me the glass cup, looking at me from head to toe as though there was more to what she was seeing.
“Babe, how was work today? In fact, how has it been since yesterday?” She asked. I shook my head as I sat down on the sofa close to me allowing my entire weight sink into it.
“Extremely eventful,” I heaved a sigh and gulped my juice down to half glass. In no time, I had narrated everything that happened with the lift, the meeting and Jeremiah’s question about Lisa.
The microwave announced my food was ready. Not wanting to break the flow, we both went into the kitchen while Ego served my meal and I kept talking.
“Hmmmn… Maybe Lisa gave him a tough time when he mentioned to her that he wanted to make you Head of Legal Affairs and I guess he also sensed her nervousness when you entered the meeting room today. Going by what you told me about this guy, he is smart. He probably has put two and two together and came to the conclusion that Lisa isn’t comfortable with you being in Edgewood but he doesn’t know why and she won’t tell him. So, he decided to ask you.”
Why hadn’t I thought of that! That could be it.
As I ate, I thought about all Ego had said. If Jeremiah was sensing Lisa’s reservations and she won’t tell him about it. Who else to ask other than me, right? However, I still felt a bit uncomfortable because now, Jeremiah will be on the lookout for my countenance towards Lisa and vice versa.
Could she really have objected my coming to Edgewood? Of course, she could have. She knew she wasn’t really safe with me there especially since Patrick was also working in Edgewood. I was certain she tried all she could to ensure I won’t get the job.
I was looking at Ego now. Her lips were moving but I couldn’t hear what she was saying. I was nodding like I was following her as she spoke but my mind was on Jeremiah, Lisa and Patrick. Lisa and Patrick didn’t want me around Edgewood, that’s for sure. Jeremiah was probably my only ally. A lot of people definitely didn’t want me there.
In fact, a lot were jealous and surprised Jeremiah put me there. I could sense the beef in the last two days.
It then occurred to me that Ego has been trying to get my attention.
“You like to drift away, Bella” She snapped. Hissing, she continued, “I’m sure you didn’t hear a word of what I have been saying.”
I smiled. “Sorry dear, a lot has been on my mind lately. This seems like a big deal for me. This new job and everyone that has a stake in it.”
“You have a text message.” She responded nodding towards my phone that was placed on the dining table.
It was from Jeremiah.
“It’s just been two days but it seems you would be playing an active role in Edgewood sooner than I thought. Rumors got to me. Edgewood is under attack; something we have feared for a while. Pentagon House is suing us again. We are likely to be served with a letter soon. Gregory Banwo Daniels has been on our case for a while. I intend to put this matter to rest once and for all. See me at 12 noon tomorrow. Cheers.”
Cold gripped me and I started to blink uncontrollably.
It wasn’t because of the fact that it was just two days and I have a major case already.
It wasn’t because I had a case with Pentagon House.
It wasn’t even because Jeremiah wanted to see me by 12 noon tomorrow.
It was because of a name that was too familiar to be ignored. Gregory Banwo Daniels… a name that brought back memories.
Memories I thought had long being buried…