Bella Episode 8: Jeremiah Vs. Gregory
As I looked at the phone on my desk at work the next day and considered dialing it to call Pentagon House’s Legal Director, a lot of thoughts came to mind. Last time I heard about Gregory was when his father had a stroke and he needed to take over the family business. That was opposed to the law he studied and practiced for years, but I guess taking over the business was inevitable. Rumor had it he got a divorce after three years of marriage but I never bothered to find out how true it was.
This was the same woman he left me for.
Jeremiah’s informants were right, he was suing Edgewood. His father had done the same thing several years earlier when Jeremiah’s father was still alive and running Edgewood. In fact, Edgewood had been sued twice by Pentagon House. The first time, they won; making Edgewood part with millions that affected the company’s budget. However, the second time, Edgewood beat them to it and they lost the case.
Now, I wasn’t really sure if the two sons were carrying out their father’s legacies of endless beef and rifts as they were competitors of times past or if it was just a coincidence that Pentagon House was suing Edgewood for the third time in 10 years.
Jeremiah had said he wanted the issues with Pentagon House to be put to rest. What I didn’t understand was why he spoke of Gregory with such bitterness. Did they have a personal rift before now?
My secretary had gotten me the Pentagon House file as well as the profile of lawyers that worked on the case in times past. It was a huge case which I suspected Jeremiah knew was coming and that’s why he hired me. Chief Momoh, Lisa’s father had a level of friendship with Gregory and Jeremiah’s fathers and I suspect, divided loyalty towards both as a result.
As I gathered, the three of them – Tunde Momoh (Lisa’s father), Jeremiah Young Sr. (Jeremiah’s father) and Kolawole Daniels (Gregory’s father) worked together at Embers Design several years before until Gregory and Jeremiah’s father left to form Pentagon House and Edgewood respectively each selling shares to Lisa’s father as their company progressed. These two later became huge competitors and the friendship that existed between them evaporated leaving them always at loggerheads with one another. Rumor has it that the rift was beyond business as the two friends also had personal issues that facilitated the resentment that grew over the years.
Jeremiah was in the midst of wolves and that’s why he needed someone he could trust.
Rumor also had it that Chief Momoh was plotting underground to buy out Jeremiah’s father’s shares and merge with Pentagon House. However, Jeremiah owned his father’s shares now after his death.
Things were getting complicated in Edgewood. Maybe that’s why Jeremiah opted for Lisa; to foster loyalty from her father or who knows, he might simply be in love with her.
Whatever was happening with Edgewood, Jeremiah had just me to trust. Even his second cousin is having an affair with his fiancée whose father isn’t completely loyal to the company. I wasn’t still certain Jeremiah knew about the affair. However, if Patrick can’t be trusted with his cousin’s fiancée, can he be trusted with his company?
Looking at the profile of past lawyers that worked on the Pentagon House case, I knew I was the least qualified. These people were Senior Advocates of Nigeria and they had handled lots of similar cases in the past. Temporary fear gripped me. How could I come close to this? Even the most-qualified lost at some point. Somehow, I knew I had to muster courage.
Jeremiah and Gregory were at loggerheads. These were two powerful and popular men. Tabloids have compared them on several occasions. Not only because their companies did similar things, but also because they were young with good looks and that their names have appeared on Forbes’ lists several times over the years. To top it all up, they were fierce competitors.
On my own part, I wondered how I would handle all of these; Gregory, I was once in love with. Jeremiah, I am presently in love with.
Just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse, fate keeps surprising me.
My phone rang and I picked it up to the voice of Taira, my secretary.
“Would you like to receive a call from a Gregory Daniels, Ma?’’
In spite of the AC, I started to sweat.
Confused, Taira asked if I was still on the line. I had to make a decision. I was the Head of Legal Affairs and I was in charge of the case that Pentagon House was bringing against us. I was also the jilted girlfriend of Gregory Daniels six years ago. This was a professional decision against a personal one.
“Connect me to him,” I decided.
On line with Gregory now, my ‘hello’ and my voice struggled to be in alignment.
“I wouldn’t have believed until I saw your picture in the company’s website. Head of Legal Affairs… I see you have been doing very well for yourself.” I remember the voice, deeper but still the voice.
“Gregory,” was all I could say.
“Bells… How long has it been?” He called me Bells back then. I was surprised he still called me that and with the same fondness.
“Six years and three months,” I replied surprising myself.
“You work for Young now… what a waste!” The resentment in his voice was obvious.
“Why don’t you let me be the judge of that?” came my response, “To what do I owe this call, I thought I had business with your solicitors.”
“Surely, we can leave business aside. I thought I had lost contact with you forever. I don’t think you are on social media these days because I have tried searching for you to the best of my ability.”
“Well…” I started to say, but decided to keep quiet.
“Well, I enquired about who we were contending with from Edgewood this time concerning the law suit and your name was mentioned. Then I checked the updated site of Edgewood after the restructuring and I saw my own Bells.”
My own Bells?
Why was he cozying up to me and why such familiarity? We haven’t been an item in like six years.
Still, I kept quiet.
“Have a dinner with me tonight, Isabella. Let’s catch up on old times” I blinked.
“I am not sure your wife would approve.” It came out before I could stop it.
“Toju and I are divorced. We got divorced three years ago” came his reply.
I paused. There was no harm in dinner. Besides, it may be good for the case. But will it be good for me? I chose to ignore that logical part of me.
“Dinner tomorrow at yellow Chilli by 8pm” I said, in spite of myself.
“Good! See you then” Came his excited response. I hung up.
Forty-five minutes later found Jeremiah charging into my office.
“What did Daniels want?” was the first thing he said.
“Good afternoon to you too” I replied with sarcasm.
“Isabella, what did Daniels want?” He repeated
“He wanted dinner” I replied. If he wanted an answer, he would get one alright. “Besides, how did you know he called, do you have my phone tapped?” I asked
“When someone like Daniels calls my company, I always know” he shot back. Eyeing me, he continued “I trust you said no because you are not going.”
I blinked, now it was my turn to set the record straight. Still trying to remain calm I said, “You hired me because you were convinced I know what’s best for Edgewood. I will be going for that dinner because it is completely work unrelated. If the case comes up in the cause of dinner, all the better. I know how to handle it. With all due respect, Mr. Jeremiah young, my personal and work life are two completely different things. One you have jurisdiction over, one you don’t,” I finished!
He stared at me in shock. Narrowing his eyes, he looked on a bit longer. Then he turned and walked out of my office without another word. I was certain he would slam the door for real this time but he didn’t.
I felt terrible. I knew I had surprised him with my response but I wasn’t going to allow the personal rift between him and Gregory cloud my own sense of judgment and the last thing I would allow was Jeremiah and Gregory putting me in between their conflict.
I would go to dinner with Gregory Banwo Daniels tomorrow night whether Jeremiah approves or not.