Camilla flung open the ash-wood door and stormed inside. “He is married! He is goddamn married! Can you believe it?”
“I might if I knew who he is?” Kanayo responded from behind his single-piece mahogany-wood lane desk.
“And who else will I be talking about but Dominic?” Camilla shrieked out, her temper getting the better of her as she glared at the half amused, half insouciant man in khaki-brown French suit.
“The boss is married?” The insouciant expression was quickly replaced by frowning astonishment. “But…how? To who?”
“To some damn Nigerian called Kaine!” And because the office wasn’t large enough for the pacing that her fury demanded, Camilla yanked forward the upholstered stack chair and dropped into it, crossing her legs with careless expert fluidity.
“Kaine? His… wife’s name is Kaine?”
“That or something as equally stupid.” She wasn’t there to discuss the name of the woman who’d snatched Dominic from her just because she had a baby for his brother. “What woman but a gold digger has a baby for a man not her husband in this day and age?”
“She has a baby for him?”
“She had a baby for Tobi!” Camilla flung out impatiently. “That’s why he married her… because she had a baby for his Casanova, irresponsible brother.”
“Jeez Camie! The man is dead—speak no ill of the dead.” Kanayo chided.
“Oh please, save me the stupidity of that maxim.” Too wired to remain seated, she got up, slammed her hands on her hips and started pacing. “Tobi was always a troublemaker. He always had more time for women and fun than he did for work. Now one of his mischief-making has reared up to ruin all of my plans. Damn him to hell for dying and abandoning his responsibility for Nick to take care of!” She cussed, wishing for the first time that the man she hadn’t cared much for hadn’t died after all.
“I don’t think he chose to die.” Kanayo said in a reflective tone. “At least he wouldn’t have chosen to die that young and in a plane crash too.”
Camilla stamped her foot. “Kanny, are you going to sit there playing cheap philosopher or are you going to listen to me?”
“I am listening to you and I suggest you sit before you engrave a hole into my carpet with that spiky heel.” Kanayo rose even as he spoke and walked to the mini refrigerator at the corner of the medium-sized. He pulled out two glasses and a bottle of Melhor white wine. “So, let me get this straight. The boss left the Island for just a few days and he returned with a wife who had a baby for his brother?”
Camilla muttered a cuss not bothering with a response.
“Hmm.” Kanayo sounded, cutting two thin slices of orange into the drinks, picked a strawberry and dumped inside and then added some ice. “Why would he marry her? Was he dating her too?” He asked returning to hand her a glass.
“Of course he wasn’t!” Camilla took a long sip of the wine, then sat down and crossed her legs again. “At least I don’t think he even knew her until they—his mother and him—saw the scheming woman’s mail to Tobi after they’d gotten the news of his death.”
“So, they found out she had a baby for Tobi and their solution was for Dominic to marry her? How come?”
Camilla sighed impatiently at Kanayo’s puzzlement. “Come on, Kanny, you know this family. You’ve been working for them five years now and know how they are. Family is key to the Kojo-Edwards. They would do practically anything for each other. And with Tobi dead and a son of his discovered to be somewhere on this earth, they’re prepared to pay any price to get him home to them. Besides, even if Nick was reluctant to give up his freedom, that nosy mother of his would insist he does what is best for the family.”
“Hmm, I see now.” Kanayo nodded. “So, it’s about getting some kind of full custody of the child this woman had for Tobi. That’s a big sacrifice for the boss to make, I must say. I mean no man wants to lose his freedom this way.”
“He needn’t have had to make that sacrifice if they had offered the scheming, gold-digger enough to make her give up that child.” Camilla hissed.
“Come on, Camilla, what kind of woman would take money in exchange for her child?”
“Many women do and it is nothing new.” Camilla flicked a dismissive hand. “In fact that is exactly what this woman planned to do when she decided to get pregnant for Tobi and it is what she finally did when she used that child as bait to marry Nick.”
“What the heck are you talking about?” Kanayo stared at her. “You just said that the boss had to marry her because she won’t take money in exchange for her baby, so how did she still achieve her plan?”
“Because what she wanted was to marry money and that is what she did.”
Kanayo let out a laugh and shook her head. “Come now, my beautiful one, you actually think a woman who won’t sell her baby would marry a man for his money?”
“Don’t be as naïve as Nick, Kanny. Of course that’s why she married him, to sink her gold digging hands into the Kojo-Edwards wealth.”
“You ever consider that she may have done it out of maternal love?” Kanayo queried. “This is her son we’re talking about. How about if they kind of threatened to take the baby away unless she succumbed to their wishes? Rich people are ruthless people as you well know. And a mother’s love can’t allow any sane woman so easily give up her child.”
“Mother’s love, my ass!” Camilla scoffed. “That son is only a bargaining chip for her. She got pregnant to entrap Tobi and when she’d had the baby, she sent a mail to make him take responsibility. Unfortunately for her—or maybe fortunately for her since her plan still worked—Tobi was dead and the Kojo-Edwards desperately wanted what was left of him with them, so she pretended she couldn’t give up that child and thus, landed herself a millionaire husband.”
“Dang, it worries me that you’re so cynical. No faith in human nature at all.”
“I am a woman, Kanny, and I know how women think, no matter how innocent they prefer to pretend.”
“You might be a woman with your eyes solely on the big price but that don’t mean all women are like that.” Kanayo returned.
Camilla wasn’t offended by the insult. She wasn’t the type to be insulted by a truth she was proud of. She was ambitious and she was proud of her ambition.
“You men like to play the fool. You run after the beautiful, sexy woman you term a whore; satisfy your insatiable desires with her and then go off and marry the prim-and-proper untouched virgin. And still come after the sexy whore despite your vows. Plain delusional fool, I call you men.”
Kanayo chuckled, obviously not offended by the insult as well “Only in this case, your man did not marry an innocent but a woman with another man’s child.
“Which makes him twice a fool.” Camilla retorted, taking another sip of her drink.
“Or it might make him a man with good family values.” Kanayo countered softly.
“Please don’t be melodramatic. Nick has more passion than values.” Camilla smirked. “And realising this, I know I must have a look at this woman. See what she looks like to have so cheaply deceived Dominic.”
“And what would be the point of seeing her when you’ve already lost.”
Camilla threw back her head in laughter, genuinely amused. “Oh Kanny, if you believe that, you’ll believe anything. You think I have lost Nick, my Nick?” She let out another chuckle, sipped her wine and jiggled her leg. “No, my dear Kanny, Camie hasn’t lost her man. Nick is mine and mine he stays. And I need to see this woman to know what I am up against. My darling mother always said that a woman must know what her competition is if she is to outsmart her.”
“And your mother was an actress from Portugal who devoted more time to her career and her pleasures and lost her own husband.” Kanayo quipped.
“My mother was a beautiful woman who pursued her ambitions and she had many more men begging for her attention after my loser father left. Now, go fix me another glass of wine and stop being a mean friend today.”
She tapped the door knocker and waited patiently for someone to come answer the door. She was not only taking her mother’s advice, she was also tackling this problem headlong with the sole goal to come out the victor.
The door was opened by Catia, the housekeeper. The servant-girl who thought herself something special because her mistress paid her more attention than she should, Camilla thought looking condescendingly down at her.
“Boa tarde, Senhorita.” Catia greeted, eyeing her with unsmiling expression.
Camilla noted that she didn’t bother to curtsy, the little rude twit!
“You want to step away from the door or should I slap you aside from it?” She demanded in Portuguese, not responding to the greeting.
“The boss is not home.” Catia retorted, not moving an inch from the door.
“Idiota! Did I ask you if he was in?” Camilla struggled with the temptation to slap the interfering housekeeper. She would have done so if not for the old woman whom she knew was looking for the flimsiest reason to be permanently rid of her. “I am here to see Senhora and maybe the new bride.” She added, forcing down her anger.
“You know Boss is married now and you still come?” Catia asked the question in her broken English, her surprise evident in the way her eyes widened.
Camilla hissed, the impudence of the girl! “Of course I know. Now get out of my way, I have important people to see.”
She didn’t wait for the girl to step away from the door but shoved her out of the way and strolled into the long foyer that led into the living room. She walked into the room she always saw as old-fashioned and out-dated in its furnishings and in desperate need of a modern, contemporary touch. The woman on the azure-coloured rich wool sofa turned around her neck and Camilla knew she had come face-to-face with her rival.
No, they weren’t even rivals… she was a conniving gold digger who’d usurped her.
“Ah… hello.” Kaine rose. “Who…”
But she was interrupted by Catia who’d rushed into the room. “Senhorita Camilla is here to see Senhora, Madame, and I’ll go quickly get her.” And she rushed off.
“Oh. You’re welcome then. Please have a seat.” Kaine gestured. “I’m sorry I don’t speak Portuguese, just English… and well, my native tongue. I’m Nigerian, you see.”
“I know.” Camilla was looking her over.
She had on a butterscotch Asos slip-cap sleeved dress that hung loosely on her stick-slim frame. Her face had very little makeup and poorly done. Her hair, natural and pitch black, was pulled up in a ponytail. She was tall; would be taller than her by three or so inches because her flat peep-toed brown shoes kept her on the same height-level despite her own four inch shoes.
“You know?” Kaine was watching her now with a somewhat surprised expression. “How do you know?”
“Nick told me.” Camilla strutted forward, cornered the coffee table and stopped right in front of her. “I know that he brought you back from his trip to Nigeria, Kaine.”
“You know my name?” Kaine’s brows knitted together even as she let out a short laugh. “Well, I expect you would if he told you about me. And you are… are you a relation of the family?”
“No. I am…”
“Camilla is the Head of Corporate Communications at the family hotel.” Mia interrupted crisply as she swept into the room. “She handles the hotel’s publicity and marketing matters and knowing there’s no publicity to do here, I wonder why she’s here this afternoon.”
Camilla swallowed her quick annoyance and met the old woman’s cool, unfriendly gaze with a smile. “Boa tarde, Mia. Of course, I’m not here with regards to work. I only came to pay a friendly visit.” She moved forward and bent to kiss both her cheeks.
Mia shifted without returning the courteous greeting. “Thank you for the thoughtful visit but you don’t mind if we can’t entertain you, do you? Kaine and I are busy today and your arrival without any prior notice doesn’t give one the time to plan anything.”
“It was an impromptu visit, I know.” Camilla kept her smile. “But it’s been so long we saw last—almost since Tobi’s funeral service and I felt I should come see you.”
“Again I thank you.” Mia remained aloof and only faintly smiling. “But Kaine and I were having a private family time… she is Nick’s wife. They just got married.”
“I know this. Nick told me. Congratulations, Kaine.” Camilla widened her smile as she turned. “I’m sure you know you’ve captured a highly sought-after man, so I must warn you to guard him jealously.”
“One does not need to guard what rightfully belongs to them.” Mia stated even as Kaine murmured a hesitant thanks. “Now, if you don’t mind, Catia will see you out.”
“But of course.” Camilla beamed her smile. “Once again, I’m sorry I intruded on your day without notice, Mia. Welcome to Cape Verde, Kaine. It’s a beautiful Island with exceptionally beautiful women but I’m sure you have no need to feel threatened, Nick should be over his wild ways if he married you.”
“I am never threatened by another’s physical looks. The things that matter most in life go beyond what easily meets the eye.” Kaine replied, her own smile cool.
“Well said, darling girl.” Mia commended. “Catia please see Camilla out. Have a good day, Camilla. And next time, remember I prefer visitors coming on invitation.”
“Of course, Mia. It was a pleasure to meet you, Kaine. I’m sure we’ll meet again.” And with her smile still in place, Camilla turned and started down the foyer.
“Goodbye, Senhorita.” Catia said insolently once she stepped through the door.
“You watch your mouth, you ill-mannered twit.” Camilla hissed, sending her a glare before turning to walk to her car.
She started the car, reversed and started down the driveway. So, the new wife wasn’t bad looking, huh? Still, it was obvious she wasn’t some sophisticate and definitely not the type to keep the attention of a worldly man like Dominic.
And as for the old woman, soon as she won back Dominic and got his ring on her finger, she was sending her back to Brazil where she belonged… self-righteous witch!
**TRANSLATIONS: Boa tarde—Good afternoon. Senhorita—Miss. Idiota!–Idiot or stupid.**