Nike came out of the courtroom that Friday afternoon, angry. She had prepared her reply brief so well but in court she had been so distracted and had blabbed so much that the judge stared at her, irritated.
When she sat down, Gbemi, her colleague who had appeared with her, gave her a surprised look but said nothing.
On their way to the office, Nike fought back tears already welling up in her eyes. How could she have messed up like that? This was something she had done over and over effortlessly. Why would she allow her family issues affect her work?
She stopped by the Federal High Court to file some court processes before heading back to the office. She was completely unaware that the client had sat through the court proceedings and observed all that had happened.
‘I don’t want her on my case again. Get someone else! I paid so much for this. I must not lose this case.’ The client was shouting at the top of his voice as he walked towards the entrance with Barr. Linus, one of the major partners of the firm.
Nike froze when she saw him. Linus tried to calm him down and assured him they had the situation under control.
“Get into my office now!’ Linus barked as soon as the man went down the elevator. Nike quickly dropped her wig and gown on her table and hurried to her boss’ office.
‘What is wrong with you Nike? What happened in court today?’
I’m sorry sir. I lost my composure. It won’t happen again.’
‘That man is one of our biggest clients here and I picked you to handle the case because I thought you were capable. But you disappointed me. Listen, I don’t care what’s goes on in your personal life, just drop it at the door before you come in here and focus on work. That’s why I pay you. If not that I’ve seen you handle tougher cases, I would have fired you this instance. Get out of my office!’
Nike walked straight to the restroom, sat on the toilet bowl and wept. When she was done crying, she stared at the mirror and saw how horrible she looked. Splashing some water on her face, she picked up a towel from the pile of neatly folded towels on a slab at the entrance of the restroom and wiped her face with it.
She tried to smile but the sadness still lingered. She waited for some seconds before stepping out of the restroom. Tony, another colleague, stood at the entrance waiting for her.
‘Let’s go have lunch.’
‘I’m not hungry’ Nike replied and began to walk away. Tony caught up with her.
‘You know you shouldn’t go into the office with your face looking like that. Gbemi has told everyone what happened in court today.
Nike stopped. He tapped her shoulder. ‘Come on, let’s grab a bite.’
He led her through the back door and out of the office building to a restaurant across the street. When they had found a comfortable place to sit and Tony had made their orders, he sat across from her.
‘What’s bothering you? You know you can talk to me.’
Nike shook her head. ‘I’m fine.’
He leaned forward. ‘You are not fine and I know it’s not just about what happened in court. Something is bothering you.’
‘My husband wants me to resign.’
‘What? why would a sensible man-‘ he stopped when he saw the scowl on Nike’s face.
‘I’m sorry that didn’t come out right. I didn’t mean any disrespect to your husband. But why would he say that?’
The orders arrived and Nike concentrated on the salad and chicken in front of her while he settled for his usual fried rice and chicken. They ate in silence with Nike picking at her salad. Tony stopped eating and looked at her.
“You have to eat something. we still have about 4 hours before work closes today. Please eat.
She pushed the food aside and settled for the fruit juice.”I’m not hungry.’
Tony put his spoon down and folded his hands. ‘Nike, nobody has the right to take from you what you are passionate about. I have seen you lit up in court especially when you work on those pro bono cases. I must confess, I have never met any woman as smart as you are with so much passion for advocacy. My elder sister still lives in regrets. Her husband asked her to leave her job and she did. Now, he has left her and married someone else. She is alone with her two kids struggling to get a job. In fact I just sent some money for her kids school fees. I don’t want you to regret this. Please, don’t give up your job to please a man.’
The house was cold and empty when Nike entered at the end of the work day. She was restless and moved from one room to another. David had not called her since he left and he had refused to pick her calls. She sat on the bed, feeling drained.
Tony called that night and asked if she wanted to hang out with him but she said No. She wanted to be alone. But by the next morning, she was feeling very lonely and in dire need of company. She picked up her phone and dialed Tony’s number. He answered on the first ring.
‘Guess what?’ He started. ‘I just prepared pepper soup and I’m almost done with the coconut rice and chicken sauce. You want to come over?’
Nike jumped at the offer without thinking. Anything to get her out of her empty three bedroom flat and out of her moody state. She ran into the bathroom, had a quick shower and rushed out of the house. She was bubbling with excitement as she drove to Tony’s house.
When she stepped into the living room, she smiled remembering the first time she had entered the house. Tony had been ill and for a week had not been able to come to work. She had come along with a colleague to see him after he was discharged from the hospital.
The living room was sparsely furnished then but she noticed the beautiful sofas and curtains all with a touch of grey. The tantalising aroma of grilled chicken filled the air and made her stomach rumble.
Tony hugged her and didn’t want to let her go until she pushed him away. Soft blues played from a stereo as she settled into the soft sofa that turned her into a more relaxed mood.
He rubbed her shoulder briefly before heading for the kitchen. Suddenly, Nike became tense. Should she have come? What had gotten into her head? Tony returned from the kitchen with a tray of peppersoup.
Nike relax, she said to herself. After all, Tony was not a stranger. She’d known him for many years now.
She picked up a bowl from the tray and began to sip from the peppersoup. It was delicious. She nodded her head and before she knew it, she had emptied the bowl. The coconut rice and chicken stew followed. She didn’t realise how hungry she was until she had gone half way through the meal. She raised her head to find him staring at her.
“What? Why are you staring at me like that?
‘I’m just thinking, why did you refuse to marry me? I chased you for years and you still ended up with that guy. What was it about him that’s so special that I don’t have.’
She wanted to tell him they had zero connection on a spiritual level. That though they flowed intellectually, her spiritual growth mattered more than anything. It wasn’t something Nike could trade with. .
She smiled. ‘This food is delicious.’
‘Don’t change the topic. Tell me, what is it that he has that I don’t have.’
‘I’m married now Tony.’
‘You know I still love you very much.’ He held her hands and rubbed them gently. Seeing the effect he was having on her, she pulled away. He moved closer.
He kissed her. Nike felt her body weaken as she opened up to him. Just as he reached for her back, she pushed him away and stood up.
‘Was this the reason you asked me to come here! I’m a married woman for God’s sake.’ then she remembered she had been the one that had called.
‘Never mind.’ She picked up her bag. He stood in front of her.
‘ Nike, I see the fire in your eyes. You want me as much as I want you. You deserve a man who will support your dreams and vision. You need a man who will love you deeply.
‘My husband loves me. Fine, we may be going through a difficult time now but we love each other. I have to go.’
Nike stepped away from him and walked to the door. She noticed the door wouldn’t open when she turned the handle. It was locked. Fear gripped her heart. All sorts of thoughts crossed through her mind.
‘Why is the door locked?’
He was leaning on one of the sofas, smiling.
‘Tony, open this door please.’ Her eyes scanned the living room for any weapon in case he tried anything stupid. But she knew she could barely pull him down. His strong muscles and broad chest would get her down fast.
Oh Lord please help me. She muttered.
‘Please Tony don’t do this to me.’
‘I shouldn’t do what?’ He said as he moved slowly towards her. She saw a pen on the center table and rushed to pick it up. She held it up. Tony stopped and began to laugh.
‘Funny you, I could grab that from your hand in a second. You should have gone for a knife instead. Pen, are you kidding me?
‘Open the door!’ Nike screamed.
He raised his hand. ‘Relax, babe. I was just playing with you. You know I can’t rape you. I’m too much of a gentleman to do that to you.’ He smiled again as he unlocked the door. Beads of sweat covered Nike’s forehead as her heart pounded. She rushed out and didn’t stop until she reached her car. A strong hand grabbed her.
‘Tony let me go.’
”You know I was just playing pranks on you right?’
‘Please let me go or i’ll scream.’
He withdrew. Her hands were trembling as she rummaged her bag for her keys.
‘I’m really sorry Nike. Sincerely I didn’t mean it. I’m sorry.’
Nike almost ran into the wall as she sped out of the compound, and only then did she sigh in relief. What if Tony had actually raped her? Would she be able to forgive herself? Her husband had travelled to the mission field and within two days she had found comfort in another man’s arms. What sort of a believer was she?
Jesus, I’m confused. Help me, please.
She battled between going to Gloria’s house or going straight home and then decided to go home. It was time to learn how to manage her own issues without involving her friends.
She could still hear the loud thumps of her heart when she reached for her key and opened the door. The house was as silent as she had left it except for the humming sound from the freezer. She dropped her bag in the living room and reached for her phone. She would call her husband and pray he picked it this time. The phone rang several times and he didn’t pick up. She decided to send a message.
Sweetheart, please pick my call. Let’s talk. I miss you.
She stood up and dragged her depressed self to the bedroom. She stopped when she saw the bedroom door opened. She was sure she had closed it that morning. Or had she forgotten this time? Probably, in her bid to rush out quickly from the house, she had forgotten to close the door.
She jumped when she saw a man lying on the bed.
He didn’t move. He just stared blankly at the ceiling. She noticed the boxes he had packed for the trip standing beside the bed. She was curious.
She sat beside him. ‘What happened? Why are you back?
He still didn’t respond.
Episode 3 comes up next week Friday.