By the third week, I have settled in to a form of routine. I was able to prove my ingenuity to my boss when he gave me a file to prepare and told me to accompany him to court. He actually praised me, in his words ‘I like how you handle yourself.” Since then, I excelled in all the work he gave to me.
I was happy albeit stressed but I was learning and that was enough for me. In the three weeks, I appeared in court three times, that is an average of once a week. All the other time was spent doing research for senior associates, writing briefs and running from Dapo.
Since the episode in his office, I couldn’t bear to face him. I avoided him at all costs and he didn’t approach me either. He probably does not want a wide-eyed idiot staring at him all day. So embarrassing.
I was at my desk, working on a file for Sunmola. Junior associates are at the beck and call of everybody in the firm and we usually have a lot of grubby work to do. Sunmola and I are fast friends despite her seniority in the firm. We meet for lunch every afternoon and even spent last Saturday together at the movies.
A presence across my desk broke my concentration. I looked up, and straight into the face of Dapo, what could he want? More work for me. I frowned slightly.
“Why the sad look? Aren’t you happy to see me?”
I rolled my eyes, waiting for him to tell me why he’s in front of my desk. “What do you want?” I asked uncharitably, still feeling the sting of embarrassment.
“I just came by to see you.”
“Oh.” I peered at him curiously. “I would have offered you a seat but….” I gestured to the empty space before me.
“No problem.” He smiled. “Quick question, will you go out for a drink with me after work?
Uh? A drink? That came out of nowhere. “A drink?” I repeated aloud.
“Yeah. You know, those things that come out of bottles into cups and you sip?”
“I know what a drink is.”
“Oh? I would have argued that in court.”
“Very funny.” I laughed in spite of myself.
“So, would you?”
“Why? Well, let me think…it could be the fact that you annoy me and I want to give you a good dressing down or it could be that I like you and want to know more about you….” He trailed off
“Hmm, I’ll wager the former.”
“Really? Why?” he looked genuinely surprised
I shrugged. “We’ve not been best buddies since I started.”
“Hmm, it depends on your view. Well, would you like to find out? We could clear the air over a drink.”
“I’ll like that.”
“Cool. I’ll see you after work then.”
I was excited and at the same time nervous. Why did he want to have a drink with me? Does he like me
or am I getting ahead of myself here? I decided I’ll better wait to solve the mystery. It’s just a few hours and I can wait. Maybe.
Luckily, I was able to restrain myself for the four hours twenty seven minutes till the close of work. I cleared my desk eagerly, barely able to contain my excitement, then I waited for him to come get me.
Before long, I saw him come from the direction of his office and I rose eagerly to meet him halfway. I tried to curb my eagerness and I hoped I was successful. It wouldn’t do for Mr. Arrogant to see me flustered or excited to go out with him. So, I decided to play it cool. By the time I got to him, my face was in a semblance of boredom/resignation. It didn’t last for long though. Mr. Ogre has a way of ferreting out my playful side.
I got in his car and we drove down to a small cozy eatery not too far from the office. By the time, we were seated and our order taken, I had learnt something else about him. He doesn’t take alcohol.
“What? No alcohol?” I asked curiously. “I would think by the end of a working day, you would want to unwind and relax with a cool drink.”
“Well,” He shrugged. “I don’t drink.”
That raised my curiosity antennae very high. I was practically almost electrocuted from the radio waves I was getting. I wanted to know more.
“Why?” I asked, genuinely curious.
He smiled. “Why don’t you drink too? You just ordered a bottle of coke.”
“Well, I’ve never acquired a taste for it. Frankly, I don’t know what the fuss is all about. The drinks are bitter and some tasteless. Why should I drink something that will not tantalize my taste bud?”
“There are alcoholic drinks that are not bitter if that’s your only reason.” He looked as if he was waiting for me to say something special.
I shrugged. “I don’t like anything that will not leave me in perfect control of my faculties.”
“That sounds very choleric. Are you a control freak?”
I thought to how I like my room to be in top shape at all times, how I’d rather die than leave dirty laundry in my room, how my work has to be the best, all the t’s crossed and the i’s dotted. “I wouldn’t say I am a freak but I can be very controlling.”
He laughed. “A very diplomatic answer.”
By this time our drinks arrived and while the waiter was serving us, I watched him. He really is good-looking. I also noted that he had not answered my question. He had carefully steered the conversation towards me. Very clever.
The waiter left and I plunged in. “So, you didn’t answer my question….”
“What question is that?”
I gestured to his drink and raised my eyebrows.
“Oh. I just don’t have the stomach for it. I discovered I can get drunk on a bottle of beer. No staying power.” He smiled
“That must be tough.”
“Why?” he looked curious
“When you go out with your friends.”
“When I’m out with the guys, I just order maltina or juice. They tease me but I take it good-naturedly. They all know I don’t drink.”
“Good for you.”
We were quiet for a bit and I took the time to watch the people around me. The eatery was quite small, and there were only three other people there besides us; a couple and another guy sitting on the other side of the room.
I could feel Dapo watching me, but I kept my eyes averted. I didn’t want to be hot and bothered just yet and I knew I would be if I looked into his eyes.
“Would you like something with that drink?”
I turned towards him. “No, I’m fine. I had a big lunch.”
“So, I’m fine, I’m watching my weight.” I teased
He rolled his eyes. “You look fine to me.”
“Thank you.” I said suddenly shy.
He took pity on me though. “So, tell me more about yourself. Where did you go to school?”
My past is not that interesting but I obliged him. I told him of my university days and how I shuffled between class and fellowship. No clubs and no parties. I was a very good girl. He, in turn told me of all his escapades in secondary school and as an undergraduate. I laughed so hard, I almost peed in my pants. He was really fun to be with.
By the time he dropped me off at home, I was nervous and excited again. Would he kiss me goodnight? Should I allow it on my lips or should I turn my cheek to him? I’d really like to feel his lips on mine though. All these thoughts whirled in my head as he parked the car properly.
He was a gentleman though. He told me to wait and he moved around the car to open my door for me. I was floored. No man had ever done that for me and Nigerian men are not prone to do that anyway. I couldn’t wait to tell my girlfriends. I got out.
“Thank you for a lovely night.” He said and kissed me lightly on the cheek.
“I had a great time too.” I said
He smiled. “Good night.”
“See you tomorrow.” I walked towards my gate and knocked. While I waited for the gateman to open the gate, I looked back and he was leaning on his car, arms folded and watching me. I waved as the gate opened and went in. A little while later, I heard the roar of his car as he drove off.