5pm DJ Basky rocked the atmosphere with old school music from veteran artistes like Tu- face, styl plus, Eldee and a host of others. The hall was set with about 25 tables with four chairs around each. Space was left in the middle of the hall for dancing and other special performances.
The MC, fifty two years old comedian AY, stepped into the stage exactly twenty minutes past five to kick off the party. He called the attention of the guests who were already chatting and getting to know each other. He encouraged them to settle down before he began to opening prayer.
Jubril Lawal entered the hall with his son immediately the opening prayer began. He was dressed in a shiny black tuxedo suit, a white shirt underneath and a black bowtie. He had a fancy walking stick in his hands. Dare was also dressed in a tuxedo suit, he wore a black hat to complement his.
They motioned towards the table reserved for them in the middle and settled there, occupying two seats and leaving the other two empty. The party continued.
Cole occasionally stole glances at Tarasha and Henry through the top mirror as he drove them down the road. The journey was steady as the traffic was minimum. The tension between the two at the back was obvious to Cole, but Henry was the more tensed one. He looked like someone who had just been caught stealing red handed. Tarasha on the other hand was chewing gum slowly and looking out through the window.
‘What is this place called?’ Cole could hear Tarasha whisper to Henry.
‘Asokoro’ Henry answered briefly.
‘Is everything alright?’ Tarasha asked, noticing his demeanor.
‘Yes, I’m fine’
‘You don’t look so’ Tarasha placed a hand on his knee and rubbed it gently. Henry took her hand in his and looked into her eyes.
‘I’m sorry’ he stated.
‘Sorry about what?’ Her eyes shone mockingly at him.
‘I didn’t mean to…’ Tarasha cut him short as she covered his mouth with hers and engaged him in a deep kiss. Henry gladly welcomed it this time since she was the initiator. He had felt embarrassed when she broke away from him quickly after he placed his lips on hers back in the house. Since then, she refused to mention a word to him until now.
It took Cole’s clearing of his throat for them to break off from the kiss. Cole’s eyes met with Tarasha through the top mirror, he was waiting for orders as they had already arrived at the event venue.
‘Oh! We’re here already’ Tarasha rested back and straightened her cloth as they paused at the gate. Two security officials searched the car before allowing them entrance. They were handed a pass ticket
‘I think she’s here’ Audu said aloud to the other occupants of the security room. He was cross checking the picture on his hand with the person in the video.
‘She came with the boy’ Audu added as Afo joined him.
‘Who’s that?’ Sanyi, a dark muscular man with a stout figure asked, trying to select the captured area on his laptop. Sanyi was the head of security operatives in the events centre.
‘Nothing, just a lady that the boss asked us to keep tabs on’ Afo replied quickly to prevent further questioning. He turned to Audu and spoke in low tones. ‘The guy’s presence makes things easier for us, or what do you think?’ Audu nodded in agreement. A couple dressed in deep blue attires stepped out of a Lamborghini. They locked hands and began to walk away from the car park towards the hall. They walked out of coverage of the camera capturing them.
Audu minimized the selected footage to the dashboard where several other footages from other cameras could be selected. He first clicked on one which was capturing the couple’s backside, he and Afo zoomed the video and studied their targets from the back view. Another footage which showed their front view was selected and Audu made two screenshots.
‘Return to clip two’ Afo said to Audu. Audu rolled the mouse at once and selected the previous footage where the couple stepped out of the car. A black range rover had been parked beside it and the occupants of the range rover were stepping out.
‘Looks like the driver is still inside that car, we need to go check’ Audu said to Afo.
‘Yeah, I’ll call Blade to check out the car for us now’ Afo said, taking out his phone.
Cole adjusted the car seat and rested his head properly. He released the tie on his neck and unbuttoned the top of the shirt. He then took out his tablet device and powered it . The device was still booting when he began to notice someone’s reflection on the screen when turned upward rightly. He sat up and took a look at the side mirror. A tall guy dressed as a security official was scrutinizing the car. Their eyes met. The tall guy walked up to the car, Cole wind down the glass and sat upright as he waited for him.
‘Good evening sir’ the tall guy bent to talk to Cole through the window.
‘Evening sir’ Cole replied, wondering what the man wanted.
‘May I see your pass please?’ The man requested. Cole picked up the card from the rack and showed it to the man. The guy nodded for him to keep it after validation.
‘Are you going to be staying here?’ The guy asked again.
‘No, I’ll be leaving in few minutes’
‘Please do, we don’t allow people loiter around or remain in park’
‘It’s okay, I’ll leave in the next five minutes’
‘Thanks’ the man tapped the car playfully and left. Cole smiled. Just another security officer doing his job, he thought.
‘Wow, another round of applause for the poet, I’ve not seen such a beautiful art performance for a long time ‘ AY the MC said as the crowd reacted with another thunderous applause.
‘Well, while the dance was going on, some very important people walked into this hall’ AY continued. ‘Very important people to us and to the nation at large. First of all, I’ll like to recognize the present of our minister of information, Mr Dimeji Saki’ the guests responded with a thunderous applause as Dimeji Saki got up and waved at the crowd. ‘Also with us this night is the wife of the most honorable celebrant, Tomi Jubril’ AY continued. A lady in her late fifties who had just joined Jubril and Dare on the table got up and waved at the crowd. ‘Right now, we’ll move to another round of …’ AY suddenly paused and stared towards a couple walking in through the entrance. The audience also followed his gaze and all attention was turned to the couple with a matching blue attire. ‘Another round of presentation’ AY continued with a smile. The couple were definitely one of the best dressed people for the event. What made theirs unique was their choice of color. AY introduced the next performing acts and left the stage. Evelyn and Henry who looked embarrassed at their attraction of attention quickly motioned to the table the ushers directed them to. They sat in gently after greeting a few people who were still staring at them.
‘Your friend’ Jubril Lawal smiled at Dare as they all looked in direction of the couple.
‘Yeah, I didn’t know she was going to be coming’ Dare faked a smile.
‘I sent her an invite, then she called to request for another, for a friend’ Jubril continued, chewing the pan cracker as he spoke.
‘Who’s she?’ Lola Jubril asked, taking another look towards Evelyn’s direction. She couldn’t get a clear view as Evelyn’s table was far from theirs which was in front.
‘A friend I helped connect with Daddy’ Dare answered.
‘A friend? I thought you were working on her?’ Jubril cut in.
‘Working on her? As in?’ Dare stared at his Dad.
‘Come on, you know what I mean’ Jubril replied back. Dare took a glance at his mum who was staring at him and patiently waiting for an answer.
‘She has a boyfriend already Dad, that guy is her boyfriend’ Dare answered.
‘Boyfriend? The guy looks Nigerian to me. I thought she just arrived in Nigeria few weeks ago’ Jubril said with a note of doubt.
‘Yes, they just met recently’ Dare struggled to say.
‘They’ve not known each other for long’
‘And you gave up my boy? Because someone else showed up?’ Jubril questioned.
‘I…’ Dare was trying to find words but was rescued by the Indian dancers who had just come on stage, their music filled the air and the entry dance caught the crowds attention.
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‘Hey, Miss Evelyn Alex’ A guy in a black suit joined Henry and Tarasha’s table, smiling. ‘It’s nice to see you again’ he said as he stretched his hand to her for a handshake. Tarasha smiled back at him.
‘Good evening Mr James, it’s my pleasure to see you again’
‘Wow! Who do we have here?’ James turned to Henry and smiled, offering him an handshake. ‘You’re a very lucky man I must say’
‘He’s Henry, my friend’ Evelyn introduced.
‘Henry, please meet Mr James’
‘Nice to meet you sir’ Henry smiled as he took the handshake.
‘Just a friend?’ James asked, rolling his eyes.
‘No, more than a friend actually’ Evelyn answered, glancing at Henry’s face. ‘A special one’
‘I see’ James blinked and sat upright. ‘Have you seen the exhibition for Julal stakeholders and partners?’ James asked Evelyn.
‘No’ she answered, looking interested.
‘Do you have your partner’s card?’
‘We could go there now if you wish’
‘Oh!’ Evelyn stared at Henry’s face for some seconds.
‘Come on, you may go. I’ll just wait for you’ Henry said with a smile.