Samantha Aigbohan, 29. Independent. Hardworking. Spunky and integrity-conscious. A pretty enough woman with every woman’s dream of meeting Prince Charming and being charmingly proposed to. But charming doesn’t describe having a man you accidentally met four days ago demand that you marry him with a list of his assets arrogantly tossed in your face. Samantha is not only amused, she considers the proposal from multimillionaire eligible bachelor Kelechi Abbey-Chikelu the biggest joke of the century.
For thirty-eight year old Kelechi Abbey-Chikelu, bachelor extraordinaire, gorgeous male specimen and current CEO of a multimillion Investment Company, getting married is a matter of choice and he is not prepared to make that choice. Unfortunately, dear father has a different idea and leaves a will giving Kelechi six months to pick a wife or lose thirty-five per cent of Pinnacle Investments. Of course, obstinate and a touch arrogant Kelechi would not have himself pressured into marrying. But when he’s left with sixty-seven days left to either get a wife or lose thirty-five per cent of his family’s company, Kelechi begins to do a rethink.
Will Samantha help save the day… for Kelechi? Or will he have to share controlling power of his company?
Coming 28 March 2016.
Don’t you dare miss it!!!
He saw her almost as soon as she walked in. He’d been watching out for her in the twenty-seven minutes he’d been there. He raised his glass of wine to his lips and took a slow sip, his eyes studying her as she scanned the dining hall for him.
She looked about three inches taller, a result of her copper-brown pumps. She had great legs, he decided. He hadn’t really noticed them that first time in his office. They were long, lower-leg long and slightly-bowed. He supposed the curve must have straightened to add to her height as she grew. She was tall enough—he put her at five-seven, maybe eight, without the extra inches from the heels.
She was wearing a knee-length jade-green dress that framed her subtly curved behind, making her more feminine. A woman who knew how best to project her meagre assets, he mused, sipped.
She’d let down her chocolate-brown weave, so it fell over her shoulders. Last time she’d had it packed into in a ponytail. This suited her better. As did the subtle makeup she’d obviously touched up given the gleam of the lip-gloss.
She angled her head and their eyes met. And he could have sworn he’d felt the sizzle of electrical current in the air. Or was it his body that had vibrated?
Kelechi nudged aside the fanciful thought, raised his glass to her in salute and shot her a smile. But she only firmed her lips before starting towards him, those long, slightly-bowed legs eating up the distance with brisk, defined steps.
He kept his eyes on her face. Amused, and impressed that she maintained eye contact. His eyes shifted to the faintly glossy round lips and he found himself briefly wondering how they’d fit when kissed.
Amused by his carnal thought, he took another sip, set down his wineglass and rose to his feet as she reached his table.
“Evening, Miss Aigbohan.” He welcomed her with a genial smile.
“Good evening, Mr Abbey-Chikelu. I do hope I did not keep you waiting for long.” She spoke in a polite tone, sliding into the black stack chair he’d gestured to. She set her copper-brown handbag on the empty seat beside her. “Traffic wasn’t bad but was still there. I must also crave your indulgence, sir, but I cannot afford to stay long. So, I would appreciate it if we went right straight to this business proposal.”
Poised, spunky and confident. Good. “Of course, Miss Aigbohan.” Kelechi inclined his head ever-so-slightly. “But here comes our waiter, I suggest we place our orders, then we can talk easily.”
She seemed to struggle briefly within herself, then that impressive self-restraint won over. She smiled at the waiter and picked her menu. She gave it a quick scan and then ordered a chicken shawarma and a glass of chapman.
A woman who knew her mind and wouldn’t pretend about what she wanted.
Kelechi shifted his gaze to the waiter and placed a generous order of spicy sautéed meatballs and the chicken spaghetti. While she might want something quick, he wanted to linger.
“A nice place, don’t you think?” He commented, returning his eyes on her.
“I guess it is. Particularly with the swimming pool view.” She cast a casual glance at the large scenic windows.
“I quite agree. They do have a VIP private lounge though, but I had a feeling that you would have considered my motive even more dubious if I’d suggested we met there.”
Her brown eyes swept back to meet his directly. “I’m still doubtful of your motives, sir.”
Kelechi leaned forward, traced a finger over the rim of his glass. “You are blunt. It’s a quality I find admirable but which sadly, most consider rude.”
Samantha curved light brown glossy lips into a small smile. “That is because it is rude to speak so plainly without consideration for another’s sensitivity. But since we both, apparently, appreciate that straightforward approach, then I’ll request you tell me about this proposal.”
The faint challenge beneath the mild smile told him she didn’t believe there was any proposal.
“I want you to marry me.”
Kelechi didn’t know who he’d shocked most, she or himself? He hadn’t planned on saying that—on making a proposal. He’d only wanted to see her again. Only wanted to rattle her, unsettle her cool demeanour. But not with a marriage proposal, of course. Feeling profoundly unnerved, he pulled back, lifted his glass of wine and forced himself not to gulp but to sip, long and slow.
She looked positively shocked. And she was staring at him with stunned eyes. Then she sat back, tilted her head to the side, let out a low chuckle and said. “Excuse me?”
And he knew, without the merest doubt, that he wasn’t going to take back the proposal. There was no doubt that his sudden proposal had shocked her. There was still that faint gleam of astonishment in her eyes. Yet, despite the shock—and puzzlement, she still managed to maintain her composure and even sounded subtly haughty. Oh yes, why she may not exactly be physically his type, she was stimulating, challenging even, and quick-witted. All excellent reasons why she would be the right candidate for his wife.
Kelechi set down his glass, smiled disarmingly. “Allow me explain, Miss Aigbohan.”
He grinned at the unperturbed tone. But before he could commend her not-easily-ruffled composure, he noticed the waiter approaching. “In a moment, for here comes the waiter with our dinner.”
Their food served and waiter gone again, she prompted. “You were going to explain, Mr Abbey-Chikelu.”
Kelechi inclined his head as he lifted his fork. “Indeed I was, Samantha—you don’t mind if I call you Samantha, do you?”
She wiped her mouth. “It seems trivial now considering you’ve already proposed.”
Kelechi chuckled. “That there is why you are the right candidate.”
“Candidate?” She repeated, brows arched. “For a marriage proposal?”
“Let me explain and then you’ll understand.” Kelechi laid down his fork, refilled his glass and picked it up. “My father—Dr Cyril Abbey-Chikelu—passed away about seven months ago.”
She made a quiet sympathetic sound but did not interrupt.
“He left a will on how his assets are to be distributed between my brother—Tobechukwu—and I as his only children. Of course provisions were made for other relatives, but that is pointless here.”
Again she made only a low murmur as she bit into her shawarma.
“The Abbey-Chikelus control seventy-five per cent of Pinnacle Investments.” He went on. “Twenty-five per cent is shared among executive staff members, held in trust basically and reclaimed upon retirement of such staff or in the case if resignation. Of the seventy-five per cent owned by the family, my father controlled thirty-five per cent shares as CEO and between Tobechukwu and I, was a shared forty per cent. In his Will—read a week after his interment—my father put a clause on the bequeathing of those shares that threatens a selloff of the shares to private investors if I am not married within a stipulated time frame of six months from that very day.”
“And why would he do that?”
Kelechi shrugged at the curious question and dipped his fork into his spaghetti. “I am thirty-eight years old, Samantha, I guess my father wanted me married.”
“Ha.” She inclined her head, chewed thoughtfully. “Well, looks to me like you are old enough to tie that particular knot.” She finally said.
“I suppose I am.” He agreed, amused at her blithe rejoinder.
“So, if you agree that you are and your father wanted you to—wherein, then, lies the problem?”
Kelechi eyed her. He could see she found his entire narration amusing—so far—but it didn’t bother him. He preferred it that way. A quick interest and acceptance would have been mercenary. And then, he would have lost interest.
“There is but a singular problem—neither of us agree on timing. He wanted me married even years before his death. I consider myself unprepared to do so.”
“Until now.” She quipped, her eyes amused and insouciant at the same time.
Kelechi smiled. “Until now. Until now, I hadn’t met the right woman. And that is not a line, but a fact. My father wanted me married many years before his death and since I never fulfilled that dream, I expect he placed the Proviso believing he could force me into making that choice—well, faster. It’s an Abbey-Chikelu trait, wanting to always get your way.”
“Hmm.” She inclined her head, finished off her shawarma and picked her chapman, took a sip and laid it back.
Kelechi watched, enjoying her precise movements.
“Let me see if I get this straight—your father owns thirty-five per cent of Pinnacle, he dies seven months ago, leaves every other thing to you and your brother and relatives of course—” she made twirling circles with her fingers as she summarised, “but this thirty-five per cent you can only inherit of you get married within six months of your hearing the will. Am I right thus far?”
“Clearly you aced your Summary lessons.”
She narrowed her eyes. “I aced most of my lessons, Mr Sarcastic.”
Kelechi grinned at her huffy tone. Dang, she was spunky. “My bad.”
She gave a snooty sniff. “Back to my summarisation. You haven’t gotten married because, in all your adult years, you considered yourself unprepared and hadn’t found Miss Right. Still in order?”
He merely forked up some spaghetti.
Samantha gave a satisfied nod. “And even with a six-month time limit hanging around your neck like a noose, you still could not find Miss Right—well, I mean until now, of course.”
When he only continued eating, she sighed dramatically. “I always knew all that talk about achieving results faster under pressure was crock and bull.”
His brows rose. “Don’t you mean cock and bull?”
Her mouth spread into a sunny smile. “I prefer my own method.”
“I bet you do.” His eyes lingered on her inward curved lips.
“I only have three questions at this point, Mr Abbey-Chikelu.” She said, lifting her glass of Chapman.
“Kelechi, please. After all, I have proposed to you and it is my belief, you are considering my proposal.”
She took a slow sip. “I’d rather stick with Mr Abbey-Chikelu. Keeps things in clarity.”
He only shrugged, went on eating.
“So, my questions are, how much time do you have left and…”
“Just about nine weeks.” He interposed.
Her brows shot up. “Aha. Okay. Hmm.” She smirked. “My second question is, don’t you have—or never had—a girlfriend or some female partner you wouldn’t mind sharing your life with?”
“None that I consider seemly.”
“Seemly?” The smirk grew. “And proposing to a woman you barely know is seemly?”
He raised his head to meet her sniggering eyes. “It’s proving to be quite interesting to say the least.”
“Aha.” She chuckled, lifted her glass to her mouth and emptied it. Then with unhurried, precise movement, she laid it back down and leaned back against her chair. “My answer is no, Mr Abbey-Chikelu. You don’t know me and I don’t know you. And I certainly don’t want to marry you.”
He hadn’t expected any less. Not from her. “You haven’t thought about it.”
“I do not need to think about it as there is nothing to consider here.”
“I beg to differ, Samantha. There is a whole lot to consider here.” He dropped his fork, lifted his glass and eyed her with eyes he knew were as imperious as his tone. “There is my good looks for one,” her quick snort elicited a slow smile. “Then there is the very fact that I can offer you an unrivalled sexual satisfaction—and I’m not blowing my trumpet here, trust me.”
She didn’t disappoint with the arched, straight-out look.
“And certainly not the least, my substantial wealth and influential connections. Of course there are other riveting characteristic qualities—like my irresistible charm, fascinating wry humour, ever-humble generosity—but I’m sure you’ll discover them yourself as we come to know one another.”
She cocked her head to the side and studied him. “You know, if I didn’t know better, I’d say you’ve had one too many of those.” She jerked her gaze to the glass of wine in his hand.
“Believe me when I say that I’ve never been drunk in my life.”
Her eyes narrowed in disbelief. “Never? Not even while growing up, in the university, and dare-devilry hormones were raging all over?”
“Not ever.” He punctuated. “I always believe a man must at all times be in perfect control of his intellect and judgement.”
Her jaw dropped. “Oh my God, do you know how arrogant you sound just now?”
Kelechi hitched up his shoulders. “People say a man is arrogant when he is confident and assertive.”
“Actually, people say a man is arrogant when he is egotistic and cocky.” She countered.
He lifted a brow. “Thank you for that dictionary definition, was it Webster’s?”
“No, it was Samantha’s.” She reached for her handbag. “Thank you for your proposal. I’m sure with your sterling qualities and assets, I should be swept off my feet—”
“Many would be.”
“Well, I’m not.” She rose to her feet. “My answer is NO—in capital letters. I wish you luck finding a wife before your nine weeks are over. Have a good evening, Mr Abbey-Chikelu.”
He got up too. “It’s Kelechi. I think it’s rather Victorian addressing your husband-to-be so formally.”
She stared at him, and then shook her head as her eyes sparkled with faint amusement. “I see that fascinating wry humour. Goodbye, Mr Abbey-Chikelu.”
He watched her as she clinked towards the exit with same brisk, defined steps with which she had come. The rear didn’t look half-bad, he decided. It was pert, round and nicely jutted. And it also swung nicely with each brisk step.
He picked his fork to finish his meal. His father might get his wish after all.