Tehilah spent more days than intended in Lagos, and then returned to Port-Harcourt after two weeks in Lagos. After Wale explained that the call had been from his mother, she had not thought anything of it, and had put it out of her mind. In a bid not to allow her past keep her prisoner, she had let down her guard. While she was in Lagos, she got a meeting with the man who sat beside her at the exhibition. He had asked her to call, and when she did, he arranged for her to meet with him at his company building. His company was a leader in Information technology, and the man was of the northern extraction, from a family of oil businessmen.
Tehilah became baffled by his interest in book writing, as it had no relationship with his field of expertise. For the meeting, she chose a well-tailored jumpsuit and a pair of flats. Her naturalist kinky hair was stretched and matted into an up-do. When she stepped into the gleaming lobby of Bamanga group of companies, she asked for directions from the ‘plastic’ receptionist, who told her to take the elevator to the top floor. The top floor had only one door marked ‘CEO’.
Seeing the man at the exhibition, he had been so down to earth that one could have easily related with him, but now that he was sitting behind his mahogany desk, in his posh office, Tehilah was intimidated by the affluence and power. Tehilah did not know which was more intimidating; the city skylights from the ceiling to floor length glass windows, or Haliru Bamanga dressed in a power suit.
“Good day sir” she said, trying not to allow her voice shake.
“Oh call me Haliru. You are the most interesting woman I ever met” he showed her to a chair and left his desk, to sit across her. “I listened to your reading at the exhibition, and got a copy of the book. I am amazed at such intelligence in such a beautiful woman” he said and that got Tehilah started.
She went into a long tirade about how women should not be stereotyped, as someone could be beautiful, and still be intelligent. Before long, they were engaged in a friendly debate over women and how women are portrayed. The more they talked, the more Haliru was intrigued by her. His eyes shone with his admiration for her, and soon all the fright Tehilah had about their meeting had been discarded as she relaxed and chatted with him like they were long lost friends.
“We have been talking and I have not thought to offer you anything, how bad of me” he said and pressed the intercom on his desk. Soon, a young, lithe lady walked in and asked Tehilah what she would like to have.
“Tea” Tehilah responded.
“We are alike in that respect, because I prefer tea anytime of the day”
The secretary went out and came back with a tray carrying two cups of tea. Haliru waited for them to be served before he brought up the real reason he had invited her over.
“Well, I called you here because I see a gold mine in you and I want to tap from it. I have a new publishing company, and I want you to be a part of it” he took a sip, watching her over the rim of the teacup. “It is not the usual thing you are used to, I have been talking with a lot of people and I want to give ours the standard that is only obtainable abroad”
“You see, I have only published one book, but I am working on others. Still, I don’t think I want to go with a new publishing company. Koksy approached me at the fair, she wants to work with me, and I think you know, it is every writer’s dream to work with Koksy. I am sure she can transform my books into the bestsellers I want them to be” Tehilah became uneasy. It was hard to turn down this nice man.
“Just so you know, my company will take you places Koksy can only dream about. We are new but the people we are bringing in, are not new. Let me show you something” he said and ran his fingers through the pile of files on his table. He selected one and passed it to Tehilah.
“Look in it” he said, and Tehilah opened the file and saw an application to join Bamanga publishing house from Koksy. She was stunned, if Koksy was asking to join here, then this must be the real deal. She mulled the thought in her head, Bamanga seemed too good to be true, it was something seasoned writers were looking for, and it just fell on to her laps. She wondered about the reason he had chosen her.
Could he have ulterior motives?
“You can choose your manager. We can’t take Koksy though” Haliru stood up and went back to sit behind his desk.
“Why won’t you take Koksy, she is A-list” Tehilah inquired. If Koksy would be accepted here, then she would choose Koksy to manage her. Everyone said, she was magic, and could turn any writer who worked with her to magic.
“I believe in giving people a fair chance. That is why I am making you this offer, and not Gosigo, who is an established writer” Haliru fixed her a stare that got Tehilah discomfited. “We also have an in-house publicist that would work with you, and transform you and your books into what the public will fall in love with”
“Give me a copy of the contract and I will study it with my lawyer. I will get back to you” Tehilah managed to say.
“Brilliant, but make haste in deciding as there is no time to waste. There are others who want this offer and they have applied for it, sent in manuscripts and all”
“Why me” Tehilah suddenly asked. She just couldn’t leave without asking. Even though he had said he loved giving people fair chances, there were other writers that she could have picked over herself.
“I feel good about you, not just as a business associate” he said and passed a file containing the 13 pages contract to her. Tehilah tucked the file in her hobo bag and stood up to leave.
“How about we have lunch together?” Haliru asked
“Oh, some other time, as I have other appointments” she replied curtly.
“I will hold you to that. Do have a nice day” he said and allowed her leave.
As Tehilah exited the company’s premises, she dialed Wale’s number. He had not called her since she left Lagos, and she was getting worried. She had read many relationship books that advised her to wait until he called. But since she had broken the first rule by sleeping with him on the second day, she felt no obligation to keep the other rules.
“Hello Wale” Tehilah called his name in a unique way, rolling her tongue around the ‘L’ sound. “How are you doing?” she asked when he picked up the call.
“I’m good bae, just missing you” Wale sounded distracted.
“Indeed, you missed me so much you could not call”
“Sorry bae, I have been so swarmed with work. There was a problem at the office and I was in charge of finding solution. Nevertheless, you were always on my mind”
“I miss you too, but that is not the reason I called. I called to give you good news. I was approached by Bamanga group of companies” Tehilah announced.
“Really, what do they want with you, I know they are into information technology. In fact, I have been pitching a proposal to them for a long while”
“Well, they just went into publishing and their CEO approached me personally. They gave me a contract, which I will review with my lawyer”
“Wow, I am proud of you. I have news too, I am relocating to Abuja. I have been transferred”
“Just when I decided to relocate to Lagos” Tehilah became sad. When she made up her mind to work with Bamanga, she had decided to relocate finally out of her parents’ house and get an apartment in Lagos.
“We can still make this work; it all depends on our feelings for each other” Wale said before he ended the call.
Tehilah didn’t know why she suddenly felt afraid and uncertain about the future of their relationship.