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Drama Thriller

STEWART HOBBS

“Dania, meet Nelson Maduka. Nelson, Dania Alozie.”

They exchanged quick glances, shook hands and turned to look at Stewart whose gleam seemed to calm their nerves.

“You’ll be working in Nelson’s department, and I trust everything will turn out just fine.”

Nelson spoke first. “Thank you, Stewart.”

“Thank you, Mr Hobbs.”

“No, thank the both of you for the accomplishments that await us.”

Stewart Hobbs had bagged the top youngest Marketing Executive in West Africa on his team. She had turned down several better deals with numerous benefits and took his. It was as if she was waiting for him.

“Your company is just the best fit for me at this time of my life,” she had told him.

And pairing them with Nelson? Oh, that ought to get things moving. Who knows? Maybe they could get things going between them faster than he had imagined.

Lambert didn’t think so much about that. He told Stewart that the Northern part of Nigeria and the Eastern part rarely got into bed with each other.

“You get the double entendre, don’t you?”

“No, I don’t, Lambert.”

Get into bed with... You know, it’s an idiom that means an improperly close relationship with —”

“I know what it is. And I know how you think it’s a double entendre. Having sex is more precisely, go to bed with.”

“Well, a slight difference in preposition wouldn’t change the meaning, would it? Only you cares about these things.”

It’s true, he cared about everything. And right now, he cared about taking ToddHub to a new height in the baby-care industry. For the first time in his six-year career as COO, Stewart thought he had a real chance at making it right.

It didn’t seem like a smart business move, but the duo had everything that could make them flourish and he was willing to explore those untapped possibilities.

NELSON MADUKA

He tried so hard to hide his shock as Stewart talked about Dania’s role at ToddHub. Her handshake felt cold with deceit. Hadn’t he had escaped his past, escaped her? He was glad she was here but also afraid.

He walked to his office dragging himself under the weight of the early morning reveal. The framed Nicholas Deschamps abstract on the wall had lost its blithesome appeal today. Like him, it radiated melancholy.

He had met Dania in Ahmadu Bello University sixteen years ago in his final year. She was a second-year student of Economics at the time. He had asked her out a few months afterwards and she agreed.

Two years later, the wedding bells rung in the morning while they gave in to the newlyweds’ passion in the evening. He oftentimes caught himself reliving those days with her.

Beep, beep, beep.

“Mr Maduka, Mr Hobbs would like a word with you in his office.”

“Thank you Lena, I would be there in five.”

As he walked out of his office unto the glass-paned corridor, he saw her unpacking her things. This office belonged to Danny Crombs. She must have worked her way to Stewart to get a space like this. A picture of a young girl was already hanging on the right side of her office which presumably seemed like her daughter.

Nelson walked a bit faster to avoid an awkward one-on-one moment with her. Things were already uncomfortable as it were. He opened the door to Stewart’s office only to be greeted by a familiar smile that often said a lot of things.

“Come on, sit. Did you know that Dania’s team at KTG Africa recorded the highest reach in the company’s history, not to mention the highest ROI ever?”

“No, I didn’t. Obviously, I would have known that if I had been informed I was having a new member on my team.”

“I’m sorry, Nelson. It was a late call. I didn’t get the chance to give you a heads up.”

“If you say so. I hope she’s capable of working with her project heads without issues?”

“Don’t you still get it? I didn’t bring her here to work under departmental project heads. She’s here to partner with you.”

Of all the bizarre things he had though would happen, working so close to Dania, as partners, never crossed his mind. People usually work their way up to these things not get them handed like Christmas cards.

“If that’s all, I’ll love to go back to my office to put some finishing touches on the Brooklyn-Mother-Baby project.”

Stewart motioned him to sit back down as he attempted to get up.

“What’s it, Stewart?”

“What’s wrong with you? We haven’t gotten to the juicy part yet. Just relax, will you?”

He sat in a slightly slumped position and let out a sigh. Even the “Hobbs Is Cool” mug didn’t seem too funny at the moment.

DANIA ALOZIE

As she hung Laila’s picture on the wall of her new office, she smiled, they were here at last — Downtown Manhattan. She would pick Laila from the new high school she attends, and tell her all about her encounter with Francis on their way home.

She had bent over to bring out her Tuväle vase when she saw his reflection in the glass. He seemed hesitant. She was a bit curious even though she knew this might happen when she left Nigeria and headed for the States.

He walked on without saying a word, just like he did thirteen years ago. Oh, he hadn’t changed much then. It’ll be easier to keep her head down and do what brought her.

A younger lady walked in, “Hello Mrs Alozie, Mr Hobbs requests for you. He’s in his office, the second one by the right.”

“Okay. Thank you...”

“Oh, Lena, Lena McCollum.”

“Thank you, Miss McCollum?”

“Yes, but Lena would do just fine.”

She had expected him to be there when she got to Mr Hobbs’ office. After all, this was what she wanted, was it not?

“Have a seat, Dania. I was already telling Nelson here about your impeccable performance at KTG Africa. Quite spectacular if you ask me.”

“Thank you Mr Hobbs.”

“Ah...” He waved his hand in dismissal, “you shouldn’t thank me yet. And please, call me Stewart... See, Nelson? Dania is so modest.”

“Yes, she is. So, Mrs... Uhm... Alozie, what brings you to ToddHub?”

She felt slightly irritated at his pretentious formality. He also called her by the name, Alozie. She hadn’t changed it yet even though he had changed his name.

“Well... I wanted a place where I could contribute a great deal without being swallowed up by the sheer size of the workforce.”

“I don’t think I follow —”

“Now, now, Nelson, let’s not get ahead of ourselves here. We’ll have all the time to do business.”

Mr. Hobbs got up and walked up to them. She wasn’t sure he knew what she had done. How she had targeted him so that she can get closer to the company, closer to Francis who now calls himself Nelson.

“For now, you two should find a way of getting to know each other. Nelson, why don’t you introduce Dania to the rest of the team.”

Lena called to remind Mr. Hobbs of his ten o’clock appointment.

“I’ll have to leave you folks here. It’s bad business to keep the partners waiting, huh?”

“Yes, we understand.”

As he left for the meeting, Francis got up to leave but she intercepted him.

“That’s no way for a man to treat his wife. Oh.. and his new team partner. So, Nelson is it? Where do we begin?”

She didn’t know if she could trust him soon enough to tell him about Laila, his daughter.

STEWART HOBBS

Stewart went out of the office and headed straight for the meeting. He was ecstatic and slightly afraid at the same time.

His conversation with Nelson six months ago played in his mind. They had gone to get drinks after a sour day at work when Nelson, who was drunk at the time, told him about the life he had in Nigeria before coming to the US.

Nelson asked Stewart to help him look for his wife, Dania Alozie. He didn’t seem to remember anything from their conversation the following day at work. He, Stewart, had vowed to, if not for much, find out if this woman exists or if she’s just a part of Nelson’s drunk imagination.

“Good morning, gentlemen, shall we begin?”

The meeting was brief as Stewart ran through the plan for the quarter with the partners.

“Great work, Stewart.”

“Thank you Mr Woodworth. Mr Finley? Miss Audrey?”

He walked away from the conference room towards the reception when he bumped into Dania. She looked calm. That was a good sign.

“Isn’t Nelson suppose to show you around and introduce you to the team?”

“Yes, he is. Well, he had to make some phone calls. He’d be back in no time.”

He looked intently at her.

“Well, that’s what he said,” she added.

“Okay then, Dania. I’ll be on my way to another meeting. Have a great day.”

He remembered as he pressed the elevator button. It wasn’t difficult to find her. Her name was already on Africa Business Magazine. She was tagged the ‘’Everywhere is Market’’ woman. He had followed her closely after that and put ToddHub in her face as much as he could.

When it finally came to making the move, he had put Nelson’s name, picture, achievements and an ongoing project in ToddHub’s publication which she had subscribed to earlier.

His plan was ingenious. This way, she would think she was the one making the move, not him.

He believed their pretence of not knowing each other wouldn’t last longer than it ought to.

As he stood outside the concrete pavement of ToddHub, he wasn’t sure if bringing Dania was more of a friendly gesture to Nelson or a dire need to save his name.

He hoped it worked both ways.

August 28, 2020 20:58

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