Peter Brian approached Mrs Williams as she stepped into the main lobby.
‘’My good looking hostess,’’ he said, admiring the body fitted yellow gown Kola’s mother was wearing.
‘’Oh Peter. Thanks.’’ She said in appreciation.
She then gestured to the footman passing beside them. She had noticed a small stain on the back of his white shirt. She whispered to his ears to have his cloth changed. As close as Peter was to her, he couldn’t hear her instructions.
‘’I hope you’ve been enjoying yourself?’’ she asked Peter after the footman’s departure.
‘’Very well. I can’t believe what I have been missing all these years.’’ He said with his gaze at the direction of where Kola and Nike were standing.
Mrs Williams noticed and quickly said, ‘’Good. Please come over. I need you to meet some lovely people.’’
As they both headed towards the duo, Bunmi’s brittle voice said behind them. ‘’Hi, mom.’’ She took her mother’s right hand.
‘’Hello, daughter.’’ The hostess uttered withdrawing her hand gently from Bunmi’s grip so she could throw it over her far shoulder. ‘’Mr Brian, please meet my daughter, Bunmi.’’
Before Bunmi speak Peter quickly did, ‘’nice to meet you, Miss.’’
‘’The pleasure is mine.’’ She said, but Peter’s gaze was already at Nike’s direction again.
Bunmi was displeased with this already, but she kept her cool.
There was an awkward silence for a moment. The hostess said to her daughter, ‘’please inform the pool guys they have less than an hour to get ready.’’
‘’Okay, mom.’’ She responded with her gaze fixed on Mr Brian. Peter knew this so he didn’t look in her direction. Bunmi soon went the other way that led to the pool, reluctantly.
‘’Hi guys.’’ Mrs Williams said warmly as they both approached Nike and Kola.
Nike had like Mrs Williams immediately, for she had welcomed her warmly into her home and extended family with a cordial and generous manner that immediately made Nike felt accepted.
‘’I’d like you to meet a very good friend of mine. This is Mister Peter Brian from SLOT. Mr Peter this one right here is my son, Kola. Beside him is my cousin, Nike.’’
Peter had played the role of manager in his friend’s office on several occasions. On these occasions, Mrs Williams had been one of the customers he attended to. He was added to the Pre-Xmas hostess’ contact list when he gave her a lift in his 2013 Kia Rio, the day her car broke down at Yaba. A kind gesture that would later earn him an invitation to her party. The timing of the invitation and the party itself couldn’t have been any better.
Peter shook hands politely with Kola, but his demeanour changed when he smiled at Nike. He bowed with and elegant gesture and declared, ‘’It is an honour to meet you.’’
‘’Thank you, Mister Brian.’’ Nike said in her soft tone. He was a handsome young man, no doubt. With his finely cut hair that matches his round face. He was athletic built.
‘’Does this mean I can now buy phones from SLOT for free?’’ Kola asked Peter jokingly.
Before Peter could respond, Mrs Williams said, ‘’No. Not only phones. You can also buy laptops without paying. Silly you.’’ They all laughed at the hostess’ response.
After a moment Mrs Williams declared, placing her hand on Kola’s shoulder, ‘’I need you two to show my guest around.’’ The duo nodded.
To Peter she said, ‘’I’m not abandoning dear, I just have some arrangements to make.’’
‘’It’s okay. I can manage well enough in such good company.’’ He responded.
‘’Good.’’ The hostess smiled as she walked away.
‘’Is this your first time at this party, Mr Brian?’’ Nike asked with a beam.
‘’Yes. It is. This is actually the first time I have been able to clear my schedule all this period of the year.’’ Peter stated.
‘’Well, I can tell you from experience that getting a break from work to be here these few days is not a bad decision.’ Kola guaranteed.
‘’Seeing a beautiful face like hers, you’re not far from the truth.’’ Peter said with his gaze lingering on Nike.
Nike felt self-conscious under the scrutiny of such an attractive ma, ‘’thank you,’’ was all she could mutter.
Turning her head slightly, to see past Kola, she saw Deji. D–n he was devastatingly cute. Feeling her heart race, she thought of leaving the main lobby instantly. After last night’s disastrous encounter she had no desire to see or speak to Deji anytime soon.
Facing peter, she said, ‘’since you’re new here, I take it you haven’t seen the aquarium.’’
Peter’s face beamed with interest, ‘’there’s an aquarium here?’’
‘’The view is amazing.’’ Kola added.
‘’How about we take a look?’’ Nike asked.
‘’Sure. Why not?’’ Peter said.
As they were about to head to the next building the aquarium was, Kola saw Deji approaching them. ‘’You two can go ahead, I’ll join you later.’’ He said and they both left.
Seeing Kola already, Deji walked towards him, ‘’how far bro?’’
‘’Good. You finally decided to come out of your room.’’ Kola said.
‘’I’m sorry. Guess I had too much to drink last night.’’ He explained. ’’Who’s that guy your cousin left with?’’ Deji tilted his head towards the way Nike and Peter just went through.
‘’A friend of mom.’’ Kola said, looking at him curiously. ‘’Are you jealous?’’
‘’Jealous? Why should I be?’’
‘’Hmm. I believe you.’’ Kola continued to stare at him. ‘’But really, what do you think of my cousin?’’
‘’She is cool….. I think.’’
‘’C’mon bro, surely it cannot have escaped your notice that Nike is a rare and stunning beauty.’’ Kola prompted him, ‘’Admit it.’
Reluctant to acknowledge that fact aloud, Deji merely nodded his head. Yes, Nike was incredibly beautiful. But he also knew that beauty was only skin deep, for she had taught him the hard way to beware of what lay beneath.
‘’But if you care to know, she’s still single.’’ Kola pronounce with a devilish wink.
‘’Are you kidding me? What do you want me to do with Nike?’’
A man wobbled behind them. Kola thought the man was drunk.
‘’De…….ji….’’ Kola drawled, ‘’…we both know you are not going to marry this girl. If you are, you should have proposed to her by now.’’
‘’Please don’t let my mother hear that, not even Nike herself’’ Deji asked his friend humbly.
‘’Noted. Kola agreed.
‘’You know, you and my cousin are in the same organisation’’ Kola stated.
‘’She works at Loyalty Bank?’’ Deji asked with a surprise grimace.
‘’Well, she’s still in the training school.’’
An announcement was made in the hall that the evening’s game is about to start.
‘’Come with me to inform Nike that the pool’s game is about begin.’’ Deji declined the offer and watched him leave. Pondering the new informed he had learned about Nike. She wasn’t with Alani after all.
As they stepped into the room housing the aquarium, Peter was in awe at the beauty of the surroundings. There were fish of all shapes, vividly coloured. Few of the guests were also in the room watching the puffins, the funny little seabirds with white bellies and black wings, as they drove down into the water.
Peter stared at the eel in the large fish tank which looked as though it was flying as it swam down to the bottom of the rocks and then back to the top again. They were two other fish tanks in the room, but peter concentrated on the larger one.
Nike motioned for them to sit on the bench. They both watched two otters holding each other’s pars/paw, and they were otters floating on their back, happily munching seaweed. They both chuckled as they watched them shimmy and wiggle across the logs and then chase each other into the water.
‘’Oh ok. Which modelling agency are you involved with? Because without being told, I can tell you model.’’ He looked serious after the comment, but when Nike stole a glance at him with her charming smile, he couldn’t help but smile.
‘’I’m flattered.’’ She said and continued. ‘’ I got into Royal Bank’s training school last month. So…’’
‘’So I can say you’re a potential banker,’’ Peter cuts in.
She barely shrugged.
‘’Nice. You know we’re still deciding on whether or not to move our company’s account from the current bank it is.’’ Peter stated.
‘’SLOT’s account?’’ she asked with her eyes brow raised
‘’Yes. I’m feeling uncomfortable with the way our account is been handled since the former account officer resigned.’’
‘’Mr Peter, I’ll advise you guys hold on with that decision.’’
‘’Why is that?’’
‘’I’m almost done at the training school and rumour has it that most of us are going to be posted to the marketing unit.’’
‘’You’ve not been posted and you’re already marketing. That’s the spirit. I think you’ll do well in that unit.’’
‘’You should be rest assured I’ll do anything in my power to help you progress in your field.’’
‘’Wow! You are very kind Mister Brian. Thank you.’’ Nike felt almost dizzy with her luck.
‘’You are most welcome, but…. I shall ask a small favour from you in return.’’ He smiled at her, a smile that made her stomach flip-flop in a way she had not felt since she was sixteen.
‘’What could that be? She asked with a helpless grim.
‘‘Can I have your phone number?’’
‘’Yes of course.’’
They exchanged contact.
‘’I’m so pleased to have met you, Miss Akomolede.’’ He said, smiling as he viewed Nike’s display picture on Watsapp. D–n! The dame was a rare beauty. She deserved to be a queen, he thought.
‘’The pleasure is mine’’
Deji came into the room to inform the duo about the game.
Perfect timing, bro. Perfect timing. Peter thought.