They had driven for about 10 minutes now, and still no words had been spoken between them. Dapo was taking quick glance at her, every now andthen. He thought he saw a smile on her face from the last glance he took. After he took the turn that led to the restaurant, he looked over again, and he was right; she was smiling. He switched gears, and then turned to her again, this time their eyes connected, and they both laughed.
“Next time you want to impress me, don’t do it with guys that look like they have all kinds of guns in their trunk.” Lola said and they laughed some more. She laughed so much that she had her hands on the dash board for support. “For a second there, I thought they were going back to their car to get guns or something.” Lola continued as tears rolled down her eyes.
Lola was playing with the cutlery while they waited for their meal.
“Why are you jittery? Is it the baby?” Dapo asked and reached out to hold her hands.
“There must be something on your mind; I hope it is not about what happened earlier?” Dapo joked. “Don’t worry, they can’t harm you, I have an A.K 47 riffle in the car.”
“Very funny; it’s not that.”
“So there is something on your mind?”
“Well…” Lola started and paused for a while before she continued. “I’ve been thinking of getting another car; like a minivan.”
“That’s cool; it doesn’t seem like something to get moody over.”
“I want to get it because I want to get into the sale of wears…I told you about it before; remember?”
“Yeah, I remember. You want to sell the Camry?”
“You need some money?”
“No, I’m good. I just…I want you to…you know…keep the Camry…use the Camry.” She said, looking nervous.
“Hey, I don’t want your ego to come in or anything like that.” She said and tightened her grip on his hand. “This marriage is about us, what “Lola” and “Dapo” are cool with. You get me?”
“I’m not really bothered about what people would say, but I was already planning to get a car next month.”
“You can put it on hold and channel the money…” She was saying and saw the look on Dapo’s face “I just think we should work together here. I am your wife, and your friend. I love you unconditionally, and I would love you, no matter what, till the day I die.” She said, dramatizing everything she said with her eyes.
Dapo squeezed her hand and leaned over to kiss her. “I love you too.” That was all what Dapo said and then he smiled; she smiled back and shook his hand.
“So, about the minivan, I want to get the new Toyota sienna. I saw it at a dealership and just fell in love with it.” She said as she giggled in her seat. “I have really been thinking about it for a while now.” She said and smoothened out the table cloth on her side. There was a mischievous look on her face as she looked at Dapo. Then she leaned forward and whispered into his ear. “We can even get busyin it.” She said and winked at him. He laughed a nervous laugh and looked around; checking if anyone could hear their conversation. He could have sworn he saw someone familiar standing a few feet away from their table and wanted to take a second look, but brushed off the thought. He leaned over to whisper something to Lola. “Hmm! I think I like this new attitude of yours.”
“I think it comes with being pregnant.”
“Then I’d like for you to be pregnant for life.”
“You better take that back; I’m just a few weeks in, you don’t know how I would get when I’m a couple months heavy.”
“I heard…” Dapo was saying but stopped himself when a waiter approached their table with a bottle of champagne. “It is courtesy the gentleman at table 6.” The waiter said trying to use an Italian accent. He placed the champagne on the table, and started opening it, as Dapo and Lola looked in shock. Their eyes traveled in the direction the waiter had pointed and a man in traditional clothing raised a glass at them in greeting, in the midst of their confusion, they nodded at him. A note came with the drink that read ‘Have a drink with me and enjoy your youth.’ Within seconds, the waiter had opened the bottle and was filling up their glasses. Dapo took a sip from his cup and raised it at the man. The man did the same, with a smile on his face.
“What do we do now? Are we meant to go over there and greet him properly?” Lola said, under her breath.
“No; maybe when we are leaving.”
“Do you know the man?”
“Hmm! This does not happen often.” She said and took a sip of the champagne.
After a couple of minutes, the man got up from his seat and started walking over to their table.
“Why do you think he sent us the bottle?” Lola asked.
“I don’t know, but you can ask him yourself, he is heading this way.” Dapo said and it made Lola jump in her chair. But what shocked her most was when the man came into sight and she saw the two guys they had had an encounter with at the gas station beside him.
“Good evening. I am bored sitting all by myself, and you guys really fascinate me. I…” The man was saying, still standing, but with his hand on the chair, waiting for them to give him the go ahead. Dapo waved him to sit, bowing his head in the process. Lola was still in shock.
“I can see that my boys are making her uncomfortable.” The mysterious man said as he signaled for one of the men to bend over. Lola put up a fake smile as the man whispered something in to one of his bodyguard’s ear, and the two of them retreated to their former position. “I’m sure by now you would have figured out that I was the man in the car behind you at the gas station.” The man said and smiled. Lola and Dapo smiled back at the man, but didn’t say anything. “It’s funny that we ended up heading the same direction. Anyway, I really just came over to apologize for the way my boys behaved.” He said, as his fingers made a drumming sound on the table; from his pinkie to his index finger.
“I think we should be the ones apologizing.” Dapo said with a shy smile.
“No matter what you had done back there…” The man paused to look in Lola’s direction, and she giggled and partly covered her face with her palm. “…my boys had no right to have behaved the way they did.”
“Well, thank you for redeeming our dignity, sir.” Lola said.
“But, I must admit, I’ve not seen what you guys pulled off there in a while; Kissing in public, and doing it so freely.” The man said, and they all laughed.
“So you sent us a bottle to appreciate the show we put up for you?” Lola said, in-between laughs.
“Yes, you can say that.” The man said, still laughing.
“Now, that’s compensation, considering what your boys would have done to me.” Dapo said with a poker face. Lola looked from the man, to Dapo, then back to the man.
“So what would your boys have done, Mr…?” Lola asked.
“Mr Cole. And about what they would have done, let us save that for another day, when we know ourselves better.”
“I think it would be worth the wait.” Dapo said with a smile.
“But, seriously, what arrested my attention towards you guys was the electricity between you two.” The man said, looking really amused as he said so. “The fire of love between both of you makes me wish I could go back in time.”
“That’s a big compliment.” Lola said and squeezed Dapo’s hand.
“You two should makesure you stay this way. So what are your names?”
“I’m Dapo, and my wife’s name is Lola.”
“Oh! You are married? That is even better. He said and moved back a bit as the waiter poured champagne into a new glass cup for him. “Lola. What a beautiful name” The man said, and kept his eyes on her, as if trying to deduce something, then he turned to face Dapo. “Hey Dapo, I hope you don’t think I am flirting with your wife?”
“Right in front of me? That would be impossible.”
“You need to see my wife; she is one hell of a beauty too” The man said, as he rose up his glass to Dapo, and Dapo did the same. “By the way, you guys can call me Dotun; calling me Mr Cole just makes me feel like I am at one of my company’s board meetings or something.” The man said and took one quick sip from his cup. “And my guys over there are mike and jerry.” He said.
“Tom and Jerry?” Lola asked.
“Yeah, try calling them that and you would be sorry you did.” Dapo said and laughed.
“They’re really cool guys; they just do what they have to do. That is what they are paid for. So dapo, if I may ask, what do you do for a living?”
“I’m an I.T expert. I work for myself, in a little office in Ikeja”
“Well we all start small. It would surprise you what these billionaires started with. Now, I.T, that’s one sector that is rising fast in the country.”
“Yeah, I guess so.”
“They say, if you are not getting better you’re getting worse. I might be needing your services in some upcoming projects of mine soon.”
“So what do you do?” Lola interjected.
“What do I do?” The man said, and slowly titled his head to one side.
“If you would like to keep that to yourself, we’d have no problem with it.” Dapo said with a stern look at Lola.
“No, it’s just that I don’t really know how to put it in one sentence.” He said and looked up at the ceiling for a while before continuing. “Let me put it this way, I’m into any legitimate business that betters the life of the masses and makes me money in return.”
“Okay.” Lola nodded, trying to understand where the man was coming from.
“So with that said, I am into manufacturing; food processing; advertisement; furniture business, and the list goes on.”
“That sounds really interesting.” Dapo said.
“You know, a lot of people think it’s just my drink that brings in the money.”
“What drink?” Lola asked, sounding very anxious to know.
“Flow? Are you serious? That is like my best soft drink in the whole world.”
“I think I would take that as a complement.”
“So that is what your students have turned you into; a “flow” addict?” Dapo said. Then he turned from Lola and faced the man. “No offence to you Mr. Cole.”
“None taken; but as I said earlier, call me Dotun.”
“So you mentioned students, does it mean Lola here is a teacher?”
“Yes; guilty as charged.” Lola said, waving her hand in the air.
“Lovely.” The man said and smiled up at Lola, and then just like he realized something, he looked at his watch. “Wow! Time does fly when you are having fun.”
“It sure does.” Lola said.
“I wish I could spend the whole evening with you guys, but I have to rush off.”
“No problem; it has been a pleasure.” Dapo said as he stood up to have a handshake with the man. Lola just waved at the mystery man with a smile on her face.
Dapo turned to face Lolaand was about to start a conversation with her when the man turned around and walked back to their table. “Before I leave, I would need your phone numbers. I just might be calling Dapo really soon.” He said and they exchanged phone numbers.
“What a nice man.” Lola said after the man had left.
“Yeah; if only all rich men were that humble and friendly, the world would be a better place.”
“Nah, it would be boring. There has to be a balance, I guess.”
“I get you, but on second thought, there is something really weird about how we met.”
“Weird as in…how do you mean?”
“I don’t know…it is nothing, let’s get out of here.” Dapo said and signaled the waiter over.
Time passed; Lola got her minivan, Dapo got the call from Mr. Cole and a meeting was scheduled. The meeting led to Dapo handling all the I.T jobs at the man’s Finance company. That led to other jobs from some other of the man’s companies and companies owned by friends of the man. Jobs were coming in so fast that Dapo didn’t even have enough time to count the money he was making.
Once in a while, he and Lola would go over to visit Mr. Cole at his home, and then he started inviting them over every other weekend. His wife was away in the United States, but he had a charming little daughter; a loving little girl that Dapo and Lola grew fond of.
It was barely three months since their first meeting and they were already like family. Dapo got busier by the moment, even taking up contracts that were out of his field of expertise. He found out how easy it was to make money if you were hard working and moved with the right set of people. In his case, Mr. Cole was like his guardian angel.
Dapo got a 2008 model Camry towards the end of the year. It cost him 3.2million Naira and he paid in cash. He was making more money than he ever dreamed of. But it was like a gift and a curse. While he was out making the money, his wife was home alone, and feeling lonely.
He had a staff of 3, working with him now, but he was hardly at his office. Most of the jobs he had to do were inner circle jobs that brought him big money.
Lola sat on Dapo’s laps with her arms around him as they engaged in light conversation. The jazz music coming out of their sound system was just right for the mood. Dapo had blocked off all possible light from entering the room, and it was dark in a romantic way. Lola was about 4 months pregnant, and she had the baby bump, but it wasn’t obvious yet.
“I just remembered I had to take Anu out today.” Lola jumped up from her husband’s laps and started pacing. “What time is it?”
“Any plans, or you going to be impulsive about it like the last time?”
“Very funny; the thing is I got anti-natal today.”
“Rule number one; never promise a little girl that you are going to take her out only to stand her up, she’ll never forgive you.”
“Aw, you’re making me feel bad. I really thought it would be possible to run the two.”
“Run the two?”
“I mean, go for anti-natal and also take her out, but I don’t think that would be possible now.”
“Why is that?”
“Because, by my watch, it is 2p.m already, and I still have to make it to the hospital.”
Dapo stared at her as she stood there in front of him and thought about how much he loved her, and it frightened him. The thought of ever cheating on her and the effect it would have on her, scared him.
“Okay, I’ll take her.”
“I’ll take Anu out…I know that is where this conversation is going anyway.” Dapo said and it made Lola smile. She leaned over and gave him a kiss.
“You’re a life saver.” She said and he just raised his eye brow at her. She rubbed her fore head for a while, like she was thinking of what next to do. “So do you have an idea of where to take her?”
“Yeah; I’ll take her to see a movie.”
“Great idea; then you can get some ice cream afterwards.”
“Hmm! That’s exactly what I had in mind.”
To be continued