“Welcome sir. Welcome ma.” The waitress, dressed in a navy blue and white gown greeted with a smile.
“Thank you.” Katherine replied, not picking the menu.
“Thanks, Helen.” He returned, smiling.
“Sir, what would you like to order?”
“You’ve heard of ladies first, haven’t you?”
Helen directed her attention back to Katherine. “Ma, what will your order be?”
Katherine glanced up at the smiling face and directed her gaze to him. “I’ll rather you order first.”
He knew that tone well and especially knew that it was pointless to argue. “I’ll have my usual.”
“I’ll have same with him, thank you.” She chirped in.
He waited till she left. “Kathy, you shouldn’t have done that, you don’t even know what my usual is and if you’d like it.”
“That should be the least of your worries. You should be praying that you don’t have to spoon feed me.” She said with eyes focused on the menu.
Kelvin burst into laughter. Though it was calmly said, it was so tight that he considered it a retort.
Even when the meal was served, he was still amused that he had to express his gratitude with a wave of hand while Katherine mouthed hers.
“I’m sorry.” He eventually halted as her eyes were now boring into him. “Let’s bless our meal.”
“Yea, bless the meal.” She shut her eyes.
He smiled at her promptness before following her cue. “Father, we thank you for another privilege to feast. We asked that you provide for those looking up to you for what to eat. Jehovah Jireh, bless this meal and bless the hands that prepared it in Jesus name.”
“Amen.” They both chorused.
The aroma and the presentation made her mouth water. Before them was Chinese fried rice and egg with baked fish to be downed with water, she knew thawed peas, garlic, sesame oil were special ingredients added among others. She loved the cube sized liver that littered the meal, she knew the meal was going to be tasty. It took her down memory lane for few seconds.
He watched and saw her blinked severally, exhaled before picking her fork.
“You do have a sweet way of payback.” He was referring to their exchange.
“I haven’t considered payback yet and you’re already complaining.” She shot him a warning glance.
“Oh… good Lord in heaven!” He exclaimed and they both laughed.
“Hmm, this is delicious.” She couldn’t help but say in between chewing.
“Yea…” He scooped the meal into his mouth.
Silence prevailed as they both ate, savoured their meal and sipped water.
“You amaze me, Katherine. How you could give such speech with no time to prepare.” He lifted the bottle to his lips. “I like to ask you a question I’ve asked before, why did you stop schooling and do your family members know the turn your life has taken.”
“I’m afraid I can’t answer that.”
A couple of minutes passed between them.
“Kathy, you’re picking your meal.”
“I’m sorry, Kel, I lost my appetite.” She told him eyes still on the meal. She couldn’t look at him.
“That should be expected, it’s hard for the body to break free from a routine it is used to and that’s the case with you. You’re so used to spending every day at work without lunch, so no appetite at all is expected but not to worry for I’m ready to reprogram you whatever the cost.” He beamed at her.
His words and countenance drew out a smile from her overshadowing the sadness that had engulfed her.
She shrugged. “You’re right, even a lay man knows that but you sound more like a professional, at some point in time did you do something related to medicine or psychology?”
“Na.” He drawled. “Not my kind of stuff but the tone might be because I have a medical doctor in my family.”
“Go ahead, Kathy, pick your meal I wouldn’t mind waiting and cheering you.” He told her gleefully.
She rolled her eyes and chuckled.
When it was time to eat her fish, she struggled in dividing her fish and he helped her and took three pieces from hers which he called his compensation.
They walked back to their various offices, Katherine happier and Kelvin more determined to know the reason behind her veil.
With both palms underneath her chin, Shakirat studied the opened brochure. She was seated in the armed chair with both elbows on the reading desk.
Tobi walked in from the gym having done his evening work out. He was compelled to halt by the door and take in his wife’s posture and the four brochures that were opened on the desk.
His brows narrowed. “Sweetie, what’s going on?” He covered the distance between and on a lighter note added. “Are you preparing for an exam?”
She glanced at him and her gaze returned to the brochure. “I want the twins to come back to Nigeria and complete their secondary education.”
“What! Why?” He gave a frantic look.
“I—I’m not comfortable anymore with the distance.” She muttered, audible enough for him to hear.
“Baby…” He drawled and then heaved to keep his emotions in check. “You’re the one that wanted my girls abroad in the first place and don’t tell me you intend withdrawing them in their final year.”
Shakirat inhaled and exhaled deeply. She stood as tears rolled down her cheeks and faced her husband who was taken aback by her tears. “Sweetie…” She gulped down a sob. “I know what I said my love but—Prince has been appearing in my dream.” She sniffed. “He was crying and every time I reach for him, he vanishes.” She sobbed.
Tobi took her into his arms.
“I’m afraid… I want Rosemary and Rosamund back home. Please…” She burst into tears.
His arms around her tightened and he fought back his tears. “It’s okay Babe. If that is you want, we’ll work on convincing them.”
The driver opened the door and she looked back on impulse just to see Abbey, the security officer running to catch up with her.
“Hello, Katherine, oh no…Good evening, ma.” He corrected himself.
“Good evening, Abbey.” She beamed. “Skip the ma, we’re pals.”
He looked left and right before whispering. “Please don’t let someone else hear that.”
The driver had already gone into the car.
Katherine chuckled. “How’re you doing jaré?”
“I’m fine. It was a beautiful talk you gave us yesterday.”
‘Thank you for always believing in me.”
“Thank you for never proving me wrong.” He returned. “I don’t know if you’re aware but I resigned and I’ll be leaving SIC by next week. I got an employment in Abuja that I’m passionate about.”
“Congratulations, Abbey. I’m going to miss you and SIC would lose one of its most efficient security staffs.”
Abbey chuckled. “I’m optimistic SIC will get a better replacement.”
“I’m happy for you and please on Friday, come and see me. You can’t leave SIC without a parting gift from me.”
“Thank you very much.”
Katherine got into the car, he closed the door after her and waved.
She had thought it was a figment of her imagination until the doorbell rang the third time.
Hastily, she dropped the knife she was holding beside a divided portion of yam on the tray before heading for the door.
“Hello, Kathy.” His smile was dazzling, so was he in chinos trousers under multi-coloured T-shirt and leather sandals.
“Kelvin!” She gasped, stared and then hugged him. “What a surprise!”
“If I knew my coming here would have earned me a hug, I’d have been here a long time ago.” He beamed as he took in her dressing of black straight cut gown that stopped just above her knee, he knew her face was void of anything yet she looked stunning.
Katherine chuckled before she took his hand and led him inside. “Welcome to my abode.”
“Thank you.” He told her and glanced around.
Kelvin noticed the sitting room was well furnished and homely but was void of photographs.
“Please sit. What can I offer you, sir?” She corrected herself. “I don’t have variety you can choose from, so I’ll offer you what I feel you will enjoy.”
“Whatever my ADG says.” He said and sat back on the sofa.
She came back with a tray containing a cold can of strawberry juice. She set it on the side table beside his seat and brought it to his front.
“How come you did not come with a tumbler, we should share?”
“No,” She sat. “I was actually making breakfast before you arrived.” She picked the remote. “What TV station would you like to watch while I’m away for few minutes?”
“I’ll join you in the kitchen.” He picked the can and stood.
“This is serious.” She chuckled before leading the way.
She was an example of what was expected of a fire brigade. Everywhere looked tidy.
Kelvin adjusted one of the dining chairs so he could watch her.
It was past ten.
“We’ll have boiled yam and egg stew.” She began peeling the slices of yam, dividing into sizeable cubes and dropping them in a bowl of water.
“Can’t the yam be sliced and cooked without peeling?”
She flashed him a smile. “Some people actually do and peel after cooking, even back in secondary school one of my teachers told us that cooking yam with the peel gives zinc.” She transferred the washed yam into the pot of boiling water and added salt before placing the pot lid. “It’s all about choice.” She glanced at him.
He watched for a moment as she emptied the yam peel in the waste bin. “Are there other ways of preparing yam?”
“Plenty of ways.” She brought out tomatoes and pepper from the fridge.
“There is roast and fried yam which are sold in some part of the city. We also have pounded yam which is eaten with choice soup. It can cooked with beans too. White or plain yam like am cooking now could be eaten with egg sauce, garden egg sauce, vegetable stew and locally, with palm oil, salt, grinded fresh pepper, onions and some people add some kind shredded vegetables to it. Hmmm…” She halted from slicing the onions thoughtfully. “There is yam porridge, pepper soup and others I don’t know about.” She concluded and wondered if he could cook.
“Let’s eat it with the local type.”
She laughed. “Fresh pepper without being cooked might be too hot for you.”
He pouted making Katherine chuckle but said nothing and looked on as she sliced the tomatoes, diced the pepper, broke three eggs and beat in a bowl.
Satisfied after checking with the yam with a fork, she drained the water.
“What we’ll use to eat the yam is egg sauce.” She glanced at him before setting the pot on fire. “I don’t like to add seasoning to my egg sauce.” She told him as she stirred the sauce
“You almost sounding like my sister.” He inhaled. “I’m so loving the aroma.”
Kelvin helped her set the table.
They eventually sat to eat after she said the prayer.
He complimented her on the meal and assisted her in rinsing and wiping the dishes afterwards despite her protest.
Later, they strolled around the house and out to the estate.
Kelvin told her about how he started out in Nigeria while she listened and avoid saying things that will make him want to broach what she minded discussing.
They shared pineapple and water melon, played scramble with Katherine winning, teased each other, laughed long and hard, even at a point Kelvin had tears in his eyes before he left past the hour of 2 p.m. Not forgetting to tell her in no small words how much he enjoyed himself and how well she fed him.
Kelvin was lying belly down on the rug of his sitting room, his upper body supported with a throw pillow watching the world news on CNN.
“Sir.” The house keeper called to gain attention.
He looked at her.
“Your meal is served.”
“Ouch! I’m sorry I forgot to tell you I won’t eat dinner because I’m still full from what I ate out.”
“Was it a business lunch?” She asked smiling.
“No, I went to see a very good friend.” He beamed.
“That friend must have really filled you real good for that smile lightens your face. Continue your news now.” She excused him.
Kelvin chuckled as he directed his eyes to the LG 84-inch LED TV but his mind drifted to the beautiful lady he had spent the better part of the day with.
One of the reasons that prompted him to visit her was when the admin director told him he had refused her official accommodation. She had told him that the house was hers and she did live alone.
He sighed. Visiting her had left him exhilarated but confused, more confused. Who in the world do not keep photographs in their sitting room?
He exhaled and closed his eyes. “Dear Jesus, you know it all, you know my heart. You know why you’ve placed us on same path. I feel like there is a lot she going through or masking. Lord please… guide me and help me not to run ahead of you.”
Katherine placed a mug of ginger tea, lime and honey on the dining table, pulled out a chair and sat. She had never had a guest in her house, he had surprised her and she liked it.
Her brows darkened. He had favoured her so well beyond measure and believed in her abilities so much that he threw caution to the wind to give her opportunities. Thankfully God had helped her.
She felt good friendship with him but she was not going to forget who she was, what had happened and what the great book says about the heart of man.
Katherine lifted her mug and sipped.
What will people say if they ever hear that the boss had being in her kitchen and had helped rinsed and wiped dishes. Her lips parted into a smile.