Counting Tiger Lilies
Queen Williams stole a quick glance at the rear mirror before stepping out of her Toyota car, and then gave her long braided hair a flip back over her shoulders as she closed her car. With her usual smile, she walked nonchalantly into the company. She looked so beautiful and captivating on her navy blue skirt and suit jacket. Her fellow employees greeted her as she walked past them and she did not fail to reciprocate. Everyone liked her kind gestures and how she composed herself.
When she finally got into her office, she dropped her handbag on the table and sat down to begin the day’s job, not after she bowed her head and said a short prayer. There, she was a successful and renowned accountant in the country and also working in one of the biggest accounting firm. At thirty, she had earned a lot. A smile curved at the corner of her lips and her face brightened then something caught her attention across the road. It was a little girl playing on the sand. She intended cleaning the sweat on her forehead but unknowingly, she ended up smearing the dirt from her hand to her forehead. Queen giggled and suddenly her face turned pale. That reminded her of her mother’s nagging to get married as her sisters were married and had children. Marriage was the last thing she had ever considered.
“I am big enough to make my own decisions” she said loudly without taking notice of her secretary. “Excuse me ma’am”. Mrs. Esther, an average height lady said. She was older than her boss.
“Err…. How long have you been here?”
“Over thirty minutes” Esther replied sardonically. “Are you serious?” She asked with panic. “Just kidding” Esther answered and continued. “Actually ma’am, the client is here to see you”. “Oh, let him in please”. She tried to arrange her desk and looked around to confirm if everything was in good shape. Being satisfied with it, she sat confidently and awaited her visitor.
The figure she saw at the door made her gasp. He was well built and had everything in place. His dark complexion suited him like a typical Nigerian man. At least she had seen men of different categories, but she could not understand why she developed this feeling all of a sudden. His features hit her like a physical blow. As he came closer, her feet became feeble as she struggled to stand up.
“Good morning Ms. Queen, sorry I am behind schedule”. He greeted her and stretched out his hands. His voice was so hoarse and deep.
“That’s no problem sir. You may sit” She replied taking his hands. Her hands were certainly not dainty and small but in his grip, they felt very feminine and small. The touch sends electric pulses running through her body. He was the CEO of Noble and Company and so much younger than she expected. Mid- thirties, she guessed, named Mr. Christian Emmanuel. As she sat after him, she checked her table for the documents but did not find them. A confused look was written all over her face. Where could it be? She wondered.
“Oh God!” She exclaimed.
“Are you alright Ms.? He asked, looking intently at her.
“Sure!” She replied and began to search her bag. Her search turned out to be futile. “I am sorry Mr. Christian. I probably forgot the document at my parent’s home. I took it there to go and work on it. So, we will have to reschedule this meeting till tomorrow. By then I should have gotten them”.
“Your firm will be at loss here. Do you know how many people out there are praying for this opportunity, Mr. Christian retorted? I think this kind of behavior should not be tolerated in a big firm like this. If you were serious, you would have made arrangements for everything” he said. Queen frowned and sighed. The contract meant a lot to her and a lot of money was involved. She had to think very fast. She finally came up with an idea. “Let’s strike a deal. I will pay you. All I need now is your patience” she said and pouted her lips.
“You want to pay me? Do I look like someone who is in need of money? He shook his head and continued. “I will be the one to strike the deal with you. Meet me at Le Meridian hotel by 7pm this evening. Don’t forget to come with the document this time around and don’t be late”. He concluded and walked out of the office. She stared at him in shock till she could no longer see him. What! She still couldn’t believe what had just happened. How will she classify that? A business date rather and She had never done that before. And now she was compelled to do it for the sake of the firm. She can’t let opportunity slip out of her hands.
Christian smiled as he moved towards his car mesmerizing over what just happened back there in the office. Queen was a beauty and he saw that even without being told. Her curves, the way she spoke, her dressing, and everything. He grinned remembering how she pouted. He couldn’t wait till the next day to see her so he had to fix that evening and left fast before she could object.
“Good afternoon Dad” Queen greeted and jumped into the sofa. “How was work?” Mr. Williams asked without lifting his head from the newspaper he was reading.
“Bad!” She answered and rested her head on the arm of the sofa. “Things will continue to go bad until you do the right thing, her father added coldly. “Dad, this isn’t fair. If I am not welcomed here, I can always go back to my house”.
“It’s left for you to choose”. Her father started acting coldly towards her after her secondary education when she had refused to study medicine and surgery in the university. He wanted her to work in his hospital but it seemed her dream was far beyond that. Each day she kept on thanking God that she resisted her father’s pressure and managed to bring out the best in her. It also turned out that she was the wealthiest among all her five siblings. What would have become of her if she had succumbed to those oppositions and given up on her dreams? “What’s going on here?” Mrs. Williams asked, cleaning her hands with the hand towel. She had been preparing dinner in the kitchen.
“I think you should ask your daughter” Mr. Williams said.
“Queen, why are sitting here so exhausted and stressing my husband. Don’t you think you should also be in your husband’s house?”
Queen stared at her mother for a while and then held her forehead with her two hands. Tears gathered in her eyes. “Mum, Dad, I am tired of all these. Each time I try to rise, you bring me down with your words. I know every parent wants the best for their children but I am not a kid anymore and as such, I have the right to live my life as I please. I can’t just condone it any longer”. She broke down in tears and ran up to her room.
Three hours later…..
Christian wandered around the resort with a lot of thoughts in his head. Maybe a brisk walk would ease some of his tension. What was keeping her or was it that the contract was not important to her? He checked his watch and it was 8.00pm. She has changed her mind. She’s never going to come. He thought. As he turned to go he heard someone calling his name from behind. It was her. He hissed and turned to her direction. Anger stirred up in his blood but he was carried away by her spell. Her outfit was gorgeous. Her hair was neatly packed and she walked like an angel who just fell from heaven. He was stunned and thrilled at how this woman could make him not to think straight. Could it be he was tripping for her?
“You are late for the appointment, Ms. Queen. I see you are not serious” he said rudely. “I am really sorry for making you wait this long. I overslept”.
“You overslept? Listen to yourself. I am out of here”.
“But I apologized. She took a step nearer and held his hands. He stopped and looked at her in dismay. His gaze dark and turbulent conflicted yet raging with so much desire. He could not help it. A beautiful woman was begging him, why wouldn’t he forgive? If he also misses the opportunity of hooking up with her, he might not have the chance to do that again.
“Ok, fine. I forgive you”.
“Thank you so much and let’s get started. We are already behind time”. she said and moved ahead of him.
“You are beautiful”. Christian said.
“Thanks. Her gaze swung back to him surprisingly and she blushed.
Queen sat shyly opposite this handsome man. He had decided that they ate dinner. She declined at first but he insisted. It was unlike her. Where was that stubborn and defiant woman? She wasn’t sure if she would be able to contend the numerous stares from him.
“So Queen, tell me about yourself” he knew that if there was a question that will make a woman talk for hours that was it.
“There is not really that much to tell. I have been working with the firm for over seven years now and I can work for Africa. I love my job so much. That’s all I can say about myself”. She said munching some food in her mouth. Christian was surprised. He paused and let out a crooked laugh. “How can that be the only thing you can say about yourself? How about your family or your boyfriend” He noticed the expression on her face.
“I thought we are here to discuss business and not about personal matters. As I said earlier, I am really focused on my work so I am still….single. As for my family, they are fine. I hope that answers your question. Well, thanks for signing this. I have to be on my way now. It’s getting late”.
“But we are not done yet?”
“If you are not done, I am. By the way, thanks for tonight. I will say I enjoyed every bit of it”. “No problem but I will like to see you again, though. Business aside, will you be free this weekend?”
Queen thought of Christian’s offer. At least she should give herself a chance to experience life outside the office. For a change, she should do something for herself.
“I will let you know if I am not busy”. She said then the next minute she was off.
Finishing at work, Queen decided to go back to her own house. The past weeks were so hectic that she had to stay longer than she should in the office. She also encountered so many problems. First, she knocked down a little boy who was playing football on the road. From work, she will go visit the boy and then go back to the office to continue. Secondly, she was attacked by armed robbers as she was coming back from the office. They took everything from her including her Toyota car. She really needed a break to cool off maybe a month or two. After her meeting with Christian that night, she had been receiving flowers from him each day. They spent quality time together during the weekend and sometimes had lunch on weekdays. She really loved the attention and never wanted it to stop but yet did not show it. As she pulled at her gate, a young boy of about twelve years ran to her. He looked so tattered and unkempt. He was soaked and drained in the rain.
“Aunty, please help me. I have not eaten since morning”. Queen looked at the small boy with pity. She did not trust beggars again after the incident she encountered with the armed robbers. They disguised themselves as beggars and she stopped to help but they ended up robbing her. But she had to believe this one. She lowered the car window and dropped one thousand naira note for him. The boy jumped up happily and thanked her profusely. He wrapped the money carefully in a polythene bag and ran off. She sighed and drove into the compound. The building was magnificent. Her two other cars were packed at the garage close to the gateman’s house. The rain was heavy and she was cold and alone in a big house. She was beginning to see the need for a husband as her work which she loved so much could not help her at the moment. She went to bed without even changing out of her work clothes.
The next day being work free day, she decided to visit her sisters and their families one by one since she was the only one who did not have children that will always want their mummy and a husband who would be craving for his wife. Christian had called so many times at night but she had travelled to the land of nod a long time ago. They had decided to meet that evening.
On the other hand, Christian had gone for one of their business conferences but his mind was somewhere far. He kept on thinking about that woman who had captured his heart. During the refreshment session, his childhood friend Victor came to him but he seemed lost. Victor was also a business tycoon.
“Is there a problem dude? I noticed you were not concentrating during the conference. What’s wrong?” Victor asked
“I am fine my friend”. Christian replied and tried dismissing him with a wave of hand.
“You can’t tell me that? I have not seen you being moody for a long time now. You’ve always been open to me remember? Is your business not going on well or you’ve ended up putting one of your babes in the family way?” Victor asked and pretended as if he said nothing. “Why should such thing even cross your mind? Since you want to know, I met someone different”. Victor whistled and took a sip from his glass then gave him a surprise look as Christian continued. “And I think am ready to settle down with this one. I have professed love so many times to her but you know ladies especially those with class, would always want to take their time”.
“I can’t believe you are the one saying that. Hmm! The Casanova has finally decided on what he wants”. Victor said and laughed hilariously till tears dropped from his eyes.
“You can laugh as long as you want. Just know that I am serious about this one”.
“But come to think of it, are you sure she is not after your money?”
“Are you dumb? She’s not the one after me. I am the one after her and besides she is making cool money”.
“Let’s see how serious you are Mr. Casanova”. Victor patted his friend on the shoulder and
went back into the conference hall. “I love her” Christian muttered to himself as he stood up to join his friend.
“Thanks for bringing me home Chris. I really appreciate it but it would have been better if I went with my car”.
“I am not complaining and you shouldn’t also. I am ready to do this forever”. Christian said and held her hands. Queen stared at him, eyes huge in a pale face. He had gone straight to her house to pick her up immediately after the conference. They had fun strolling in the park. He really enjoyed himself. Now here he was battling with words.” If you would at least give me a chance, I will do this every day”. Her indomitable spirit surfaced again. “How do you mean?” she asked.
“What I mean is that you should marry me….Queen”. He said. She looked at him sheepishly without knowing what to say.
“You are not serious. Are you?”she finally voiced out and all of a sudden she started laughing
so hard trying to ignore all the butterflies in her stomach.
“What makes you think I am not serious? Will you marry me, Queen?” He asked and brought out a gold ring from his pocket.
“C’mon Christian, I have known you for only three months!”
“But it’s like I have known you forever. You need a man in your life. All I ask of is a chance to prove to you that I mean it”.
“I need time to think about it”. She said and hastily made her way out of the car before he got the chance to answer back.
“You can think about it as long as you want”. he shouted but she had already gone inside.
As she lay on her bed that night, she kept on smiling to herself and tossing left and right on her king size bed. She still couldn’t believe he proposed to her. She needed to give love a chance in her life and also learn to place other things important in her life other than her job. She sent a quick text with a positive answer then drifted to sleep thinking about him.
By Emediong Edem from Nigeria