Kite wasn’t comfortable being seated in this high class restaurant at Transcorp Hilton with Ise Williams like this, they were drawing lots of stares and she didn’t like it. A guy of his net worth and wealth couldn’t go unnoticed especially in a classy restaurant such as the one they were in now. Usually she could blend in with the crowd but being with Ise, it wasn’t possible, he was just too well known. Maybe it was all in her mind but she felt like their eyes were boring into her back and so had kept her eyes down since their arrival. She was quite shy and hated being the centre of attention.
Ise Williams didn’t seem ruffled one bit, he was probably so used to the attention that he didn’t notice it anymore. Seated very comfortably, his shirt sleeves were rolled up to his elbows as he delved into the hearty meal in front of him unconcerned that he was probably the topic of discussion at all the tables.
What was she even doing here? This was a far cry from places she usually had lunch, the place was too posh. This was the first time she would be in a Chinese restaurant or eat Chinese food, she was sure a meal here would run into at least five figures.
“You’re surprisingly quiet? Aren’t you enjoying the kung pow zhiji?” He asked her and she looked up at him.
“The what?” She asked. He realised she didn’t understand what he’d said
“fried chicken with nuts and peppers.”
“Oh,” she looked down at her plate, the meal was great but the problem was the stares they were getting. It was making her so damn self conscious and then the damn restaurant wasn’t also helping. Why had she even agreed on having lunch with him? It wasn’t as if he’d given her a choice anyway, he’d more like ordered her to lunch with him and then she’d been sort of happy at the prospect of free lunch. The question she should be asking was why he’d asked her out to lunch? Was he still feeling sorry for her because of her mother’s condition? Was she like a charity case to him?
“You could try out the Ji rou chao fan, might be more to your taste” He was saying pointing at what looked like chicken tossed in fried rice and vegetables.”Or the Qie zi sauce” he pointed to a sauce with fried black looking stuff that looked like the egg plant ” goes great with gali chao fan or curried rice, and then, the Tudow xiang niu rou here is quite nice, it’s fried potatoes tossed in vegetables and beef. You shouldn’t just concentrate on one meal, you should have a little of everything.” He told her seeing she’d been on one meal, when the table was laden with different dishes.
“I’m not used to seeing so much food and I’m enjoying this one quite well.” She told him her eyes going over the different dishes on the table. Her eyes had been wide with amazement when Ise had been ordering in the foreign language. Not just because he’d been speaking the language but because he’d ordered about five different meals and they’d come in large dishes just for the two of them.
“This is quite a lot of food.” She said
“The chinese love to have a full table of food. They love it when you eat and remain leftovers, makes them feel good that you ate to your fill.”
“That’s weird, over here you dare not waste food or leave anything behind. How do you even know so much about China?” ‘Wait?’ had she really just asked that? This was Ise Williams, she was sure he could speak at least five different languages.
“I spent about two years in China setting up our offices there some years back. and I learnt quite a lot, a little of the language, their food and some other stuff, really beautiful place.”
“Weren’t you feeling odd and alone, I doubt there were many blacks there.”
“Yeah but the people were nice, always happy to see a foreigner, I went to a remote town once and all the children were always like ‘Hei Ren’ as in black person, I doubt they’d ever seen a black person there before. I was shuttling between Beijing and shanghai most of the time anyway and those are really urbane cities with quite a lot of foreigners. I really enjoyed my stay there, they have really good food.” She smiled as she watched him demolishing a whole fish served in sweet and sour sauce, he was such a foodie.
Izu had been a foodie too, she thought helplessly and she’d enjoyed cooking for him, she’d enjoyed doing everything for him. She sighed, he still occupied most of her thoughts. Why had he left her like that? Was the question that kept going through her mind.
“Are you okay?” Ise asked and she looked up to see him searching her face. She looked up at him forcing a smile for his benefit
“How’s your mother?” he asked looking concerned.
“She’s still doing okay. I spoke with her on the phone today and she sounded good.” She replied, the doctors had said she was okay for now but the surgery had to be conducted soon.
“When is her surgery scheduled for?”
“Ummm.” Kite hadn’t made arrangements for it yet, she needed money to schedule an appointment of which she didn’t really have but with the three hundred thousand he’d insisted she kept, she could book the appointment.
“They’ve not come up with a date yet.” She lied.
“Okay, let me know when they do. Or if you need my help I could contact some doctors I….”
“No, no, that’s really not necessary, the doctors at the teaching hospital can handle it .” She replied.
” Okay, but you really shouldn’t worry yourself over it, you know you have no control over the situation, it’s in God’s hands.” He told her. She smiled, not forced this time.
“I’ll try.” Ise Williams, God? This guy kept surprising her.
“Tell me about you.” He said suddenly and she looked up at him.
“Me?” She asked back. Why would he want to know about her? She was of no importance to him.
“Why?” She asked He shrugged
“Duh? Maybe because I want to know?” He asked back. She rolled her eyes
“aren’t you too old to be ‘duhing?” She asked him before going on ” I’m just not really comfortable talking about me but I’ll give a general overview. I’m Okiemute Omoh, from Delta state, urhobo tribe, brought up by a single parent, my mom. I’m the first and only female of three kids, graduate of business management from Delta state university, three years back….that’s all, finished.”
“What brought you to Abuja?” He asked.
“Youth corps, was posted here with…” She stopped herself just in time before adding her boyfriend; she didn’t think he needed to know that.”I was posted here.” She said again.
“And you stayed back after you were through?” She shrugged
“it seemed like a good idea at the time. I had a job in a small firm where I was kind of the P.A and secretary to the manager, and the pay was manageable, so it was a better option than going home.”
“What happened then? Were you fired?” He asked
“Hey! No! ofcourse not. It just….didn’t work out.” It was quite embarrassing telling him she’d been constantly sexually harassed by her boss who had even resorted to tricks to get her. When that hadn’t worked he’d threatened not to pay her and that was when Izu had stepped in. What had followed had not been funny but they’d made money off the guy. In his life he would think twice before harassing a female worker.
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He raised a brow like he wasn’t satisfied with her reply but wasn’t going to ask questions.
“So what did you do after that?” She looked at him “nothing.” after she’d quit her job she’d depended on Izu for sustenance. He frowned
” Nothing means stealing right?” Stealing! Who did this guy think he was? So because she’d not had a job, he automatically assumed she’d stolen to survive? If not that he was now her boss, she would have given him a piece of her mind but she was afraid of loosing a job she’d not even began yet, so instead she said as calmly as she could
” Look, don’t you have to get back to your office or something instead of questioning me like this. One would think a guy like you would be busy, aren’t you supposed to be on the phone or attending to something important?”
“You could just say you’re not comfortable with the question and I won’t pry any further instead of bringing up my work.” He replied her.
“But seriously, shouldn’t you be back at the office by now? You might have some people waiting for you. it’s over an hour now since we’ve been out.”
“it’s okay, I had my PA cancel my appointments or attend to the ones she can on my behalf.”
“Oh? Why did you do that?” That was news to her, he’d cancelled his appointment because of lunch with her?
“Because I knew I would be here for a while.”
“Do you usually take this long during lunch?”
“So…you did this because of me?” She asked carefully, why would he cancel his appointments for lunch with her? He shrugged smiling as he looked at her, Kite frowned a bit confused.
“Why?” She asked again.
“I wanted to know you more.” He told her still looking at her. She’d noticed he looked at her a lot. Why was he so interested in knowing her like this?
“Why?” She found herself saying again. This couldn’t be how he interviewed all his workers to be.
“You seem to have grown fond of that word, haven’t you?” He asked and she would have laughed if she wasn’t so confused.
“I’m so confused.” She told him “and I’m not used to all this.” She waved, talking about the restaurant. “Is this how you have lunch everyday? In restaurants like this? it’s got to be expensive.”
“I take only special people here.” He replied She frowned again
“Mr Williams, could you please spell it all out to me? Is there something I’m missing here?” He watched her for about a minute, she bravely held his gaze before he finally broke the silence, saying
“Can I ask a question, it’s quite personal.”
“Sure” She said wondering what this question was.
“Are you in a relationship?”
“What?” She asked her eyes widening a fraction, that had been the last question she’d been expecting.
“Could you stop with this ‘why’ already? Because I want to know that’s why I’m asking the damn question!” He told her, getting tired of all her whys.
“Now are you going to answer?”
“Why do you want to know? With all due respect, Mr. Williams, it’s not exactly your business and I don’t have to answer the question.” She told him. What was this guy playing at? First Lunch and then asking weird questions, what was this all about? She wondered.