Much later, when Julie walked into the conference room on the fifth floor of Dotse Towers with a smiling Jacob Acquah behind her, she paused suddenly and looked around the room with her heart beating hard with trepidation.
It was a beautiful conference room, reserved for top management conferences. It was a bit smaller than the main conference hall on the ground floor.
The curtains were Venetian, the floor tiles imported from Italy.
The conference tables were three, and they were oval-shaped. The one on the slightly-raised podium was rectangular. There were outlets and boards for PowerPoint and video presentations, and a whole range of ultra-modern conference appliances.
On the main podium, behind the rectangular table, sat a distinguished elderly man in a beautiful batakari top. Beside him was an elderly woman with beautiful braided grey hair in a beautiful African print dress.
The famous Mr. and Mrs. Opoku Agyeman.
Wealthiest couple in the country!
Around the other glass tables were the Board Members and Senior Executives of Dotse Capitals. Seated on Julie’s right side were Sandra and Abednego, whose faces expressed great worry.
“Shall we sit, my love?” Jake asked, taking Julie’s arm.
Julie promptly dragged her arm free from his grasp as she continued to look around with great worry on her face, her heart pounding with mounting horror.
_She couldn’t find Akwasi!_
He was not in the room!
Sandra, meanwhile, was on her feet, and she approached them with a dark scowl on her face.
“Where were you, Jake, you bastard?” Sandra asked scathingly. “I’ve been looking everywhere for you!”
Jacob looked at her with unfeigned disdain.
“Sandra, please, not now!” he said softly. “We have visitors! Please, behave!”
“And what the fuck is the meaning of that?” Sandra asked, her voice high, causing heads to turn toward her with disapproving looks.
“Jake, go with her, would you?” Julie asked without bothering to look at Sandra.
“What?” Jacob asked with a confused giggle. “Come, let’s find a place to sit, Julie.”
And then Julie finally saw him…
Akwasi Dapaah was sitting at the far end of the room, alone, and his arms were crossed on his chest. Julie began to walk toward him.
“Julie, love!” Jacob said, reaching out to hold her.
Julie pulled her arm away and looked at him.
“Jake, please,” she said coldly. “We’ll talk after we hear from Mr. Opoku Agyeman.”
“Love?” Sandra asked harshly. “You called her ‘love’? You bastard, Jake! What’s going on here? Are you hitting on this stupid whore again?”
Jake ignored her and tried to walk past her but Sandra grabbed him and pushed him into a seat, and sat down beside him.
“You don’t wanna fuck up with me again over that hussy, Jake!” she said furiously. “You try, and I swear to God I’ll castrate you with my bare hands!”
All eyes were on Julie as she walked toward Akwasi, and then she pulled out a chair from the conference table and put it very close to him.
She sat down and instantly reached out and took his right hand.
He tried to snatch his hand out of her grasp, but she held on tightly, and he finally turned his head and looked at her.
Julie saw the pain etched deeply on his face, and in his eyes, and her own eyes became soft instantly and she looked at him through a film of tears.
To know that he loved her that deeply, to be affected this deeply, really warmed her heart. And to know that he was hurting, because she had hurt him, really hurt her heart so much.
If this was love, then Lord, she really loved this cold, handsome man. She reached out slowly and put her left hand on his cheek.
“Oh, Akwasi!” Julie whispered tremulously as tears dropped down her face. “Can’t you see how much I love you?”
“Stop lying, Ohenewaa!” he grated out in a pained voice. “I saw you kissing him! Just leave me alone, would you?”
He tried to stand up, and Julie desperately drew nearer, pushing him back and preventing him from getting up. He looked at her with pain etched deeply on his face.
“Stop playing games with me, Ohenewaa!” he grated out harshly. “I’m here because Mr. Opoku Agyeman asked me to be here, and I saw you with Jake, and I heard you! When this meeting is over I’ll leave, and I don’t ever want to see you again!”
“Akwasi, you’re hurting me!” she cried desperately. “Please, just give me five minutes to explain my actions, please! It’s all I ask!”
There was a humming feedback on the microphone, and Mr. Opoku Agyeman spoke just then, forcing both Akwasi and Julie to sit up straight and listen.
Julie held Akwasi’s hand desperately though; she was just not going to let him walk away from her.
“Good evening, ladies and gentlemen,” Mr. Opoku Agyeman said with a gentle smile. “Sorry for keeping you this late. And for some of you, sorry for bringing you here against your will. We intend this meeting to be short. As most of you might have heard already, we bought Dotse Capitals and all its assets legally. The company was struggling, and was coming up for liquidation, but we took over to sustain it.”
He paused and looked down at his hands, and then his wife gently reached over and took his hand. They smiled at each other, as if finding strength in each other.
“Most of you weren’t aware of the takeover, because that was how I wanted it,” Mr. Opoku Agyeman continued. “I wanted Mr. Bless Dotse to keep on running the company he toiled to establish. So, even though we have lost him regretfully, as the new owner, I intend to let this company retain the name of Dotse Capitals as a symbol of respect for that great man.”
The people present applauded, but Julie wouldn’t even leave Akwasi’s hand to let him applaud even though he tugged repeatedly, and then looked at her with frustrated pain on his face.
Mr. Opoku Agyeman nodded and continued as the applause died down.
“From the very onset, the negotiations for the takeover involved Mr. Dotse and my team. And at every sitting, Mr. Dotse brought along Mr. Akwasi Dapaah, a young man who impressed me very much with his astute negotiation skills, a great asset for every company.”
He paused, and there was a very heavy silence in the room as all eyes turned to Akwasi. Julie gasped, and held his hand harder, still not letting it go.
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To hear the great Mr. Opoku Agyeman praising Akwasi – her Akwasi – really pleased her very much, and she gloated under the stares of her former colleagues looking at them.
“Now, there’s something here you people don’t know,” Mr. Opoku Agyeman continued. “At the height of the negotiations, I offered Mr. Dapaah a great package to come and work for the Opambuor Group, and he refused.
He would have gotten about ten times the package he was receiving at Dotse Capitals, but he turned it down because of his dedication to Mr. Dotse. Therefore, when I heard that he has been dismissed from this company immediately after Mr. Dotse’s unfortunate demise, I was very angry, to say the least.
Who in their right senses thought it fit to dismiss a man such as Mr. Dapaah? This company is still here mainly because of his negotiation skills!”
Mr. Opoku Agyeman’s voice was like a whiplash as he looked darkly at Sandra and Abednego, who were both looking shamefully down at their hands.
The members of Board of Directors and the Human Resource Manager were all fidgeting with discomfort.
Julie smiled and squeezed Akwasi’s hand tenderly. It was all turning out better than her wildest expectations.
“As the owner of Dotse Capitals, I appoint Mr. Akwasi Dapaah as the new Chief Executive Officer of the Company. His word and decisions are final, and he reports only to me.”
_“Ayayayayaya!”_ Julie screamed before she could help herself, and burst into gales of laughter that conveyed her acute happiness.
There was stunned incredulity in the room, and as she watched Sandra, Jacob and Abednego, she wanted to get up to her feet and dance a waltz!
This was just grand, just capital!
“Now, I’ll tell you people why I helped Dotse Capitals for so long, and did everything to ensure that it stayed successful,” Mr. Opoku Agyeman continued. “God blessed my wife and me with a son, just one son. We lost him seven years ago to brain cancer.
He was married, but he never had children. On his death bed, he confessed to us that he made a girl pregnant when he was having his national service in Kumasi, a girl he ordered to abort the baby, but he learnt later that she never aborted the baby.
After his death we went to Kumasi to find this woman in the hope that we would find our grandchild. We found her in very dire straits and she indeed confessed that she did give birth because she was too scared to abort.
She had no money, and couldn’t take care of the child because her parents were poor and ailing. She sought for a good home for her child, and received good money too to take care of her ailing parents.
Apparently, the couple that took over the care of her baby was Mr. Bless Dotse and his wife Selina. All I’m trying to tell you all here, is that Juliana Ohenewaa Dotse could be my grandchild.
I’ve been trying to broach the subject to Mr. Dotse for some time now, but I couldn’t break up their happiness. Now, we’ll conduct a simple DNA test. Julie looks exactly like her mother, though, and I have no doubt whatsoever that she’s my long-lost grandchild. Our grandchild.”
_“Jesus!”_ Akwasi whispered, stunned to the very core of his nerves.
Julie was as stiff as a statue.
To all intents and purposes she could have been hewn from stone…if it hadn’t been for the tears slowly falling down her face!
To be continued