Kemi walked into the building, a bit unsure of herself. The last place she wanted to be on planet earth, right now, was Alexis Domus, Alexis Lane, Victoria Island, Lagos. The kind of guys that worked here were those who had many of her learned colleagues in their pockets. That left a sour taste in her mouth. It wasn’t the best time in the country to be a lawyer. But she was doing something she loved, with a most respectable firm. That was enough for her. From the way she was received at the reception, Kemi could tell everyone and everything here had class. Frankly, she didn’t know why she had bowed to pressure from Ivy . Maybe because she felt she owed her. If not for the accident, Ivy would be here herself, sorting out whatever contracts she had with one Senator Yuri.
“May I help you?”
Kemi smiled at the young man standing dutifully by the Lift. “I’m here to see Senator Yuri. I’m Miss Ivy’s business associate.”
The man’s face exploded into many pleasant expressions all at once. “Oh, Lady Ivy. She’s a most wonderful woman. Please come right this way.”
Between listening to the hum of the elevator and the peaceful blend of classical music that came from God knows where, they soon arrived at the top floor.
“Just this way Miss.” The man moved towards one end of the hall.
Kemi followed him, marveling at the strange art pieces hanging on both sides of the wall. She had to admit that the Yuri man had great taste.
“Please go right in. Senator Yuri is expecting you.” The man held a large oak door open.
Kemi almost smirked at the attendant’s mechanical politeness. But she muttered a ‘thank you’ in a similar polite tone, flashed one of her professional smiles, and walked in, just as the man inside the exquisite office rose from his desk and came towards her.
“Hello Miss Kemi. I’m Yuri.”
Kemi took the outstretched hand. They felt oddly moist. “I am Kemi.”
“I didn’t realise Ivy’s legal counsel would be this stunning.”
Kemi gave a little nervous laugh. The Senator had a hugely unsettling presence. She couldn’t help feeling as though she was about to become a prey of sorts.
“How’s Ivy doing?” Yuri said in a deep bass rumble of a voice.
Kemi flinched just a bit. She wasn’t going to be intimidated. “She’ll be back to normal in no time, we hope,” she said, her voice exuding more confidence than she felt.
If Senator Yuri noticed her discomfort, he didn’t show it. “We thank God for that. Please convey my deepest apologies to Ivy for not being able to come in person to see her. Moving around has become extremely difficult for a man like me in this country. Too much insecurity.”
Kemi fought back words that almost escaped her lips. “It’s an unusual time to be a Senator in this country,” she said instead.
“I’m not sure what you mean. But I do know that we are not doing much in terms of enacting the many bills passed at the Senate floor now and then.”
“My point exactly!” Kemi enthused. The lawyer in her was being roused.
“Can I offer you anything.”
“Sorry?” Kemi wasn’t expecting the sudden change of topics. “Oh water will do just fine, thanks.”
Yuri went over to the mini bar at one corner of the office, and poured himself a shot of whisky. “Sure you don’t want anything besides water?”
“Here.” Yuri gave the glass of water in his right hand to Kemi, and motioned her to a seat, close to the glass wall on another corner of the office, directly overlooking the streets below.
“You have a nice office.”
“Oh I know. Thanks a lot.”
“And a great view too.”
Yuri smiled. “Have you had time to go through the details of the contract?”
“Not yet sir. Ivy says I’m to get the modified copy from you, so she can look at the final details.”
“That’s alright. I made a little alteration though. Please tell her that I’ve included five more slots, bringing the total of ladies to fifty five.”
“Fifty five ladies?”
“Yes. And they need to be disease-free. You know we can’t afford to take any risks.”
Kemi was at a loss. Fifty five disease-free ladies? What for? “Are you employing them as health workers in your firm sir?”
Yuri laughed heartily, his amusement filling the room. “Are you sure you’re Ivy’s associate?”
“I’m quite new on the job Senator.”
“Okay then. Here’s the thing. I have a birthday party soon, and I need those ladies for the elite of society that’ll be at the celebration. I’m willing to pay five hundred dollars for each of them, bringing the sum to about twenty seven thousand, and five hundred dollars. At today’s exchange rate, that’ll be about nine point nine million naira.”
Kemi dropped her glass of water on a nearby stool and stood up. Her seat had suddenly lost its comfort. She needed air. She couldn’t believe that Ivy had sent her here to be part of a huge prostitution deal. “Can I use your restroom for a second?”
“Are you okay? Is it the water?”
“I’m fine. Restroom please?”
“Yuri got off the sofa as well. “Follow me.”
Mangodo was having a great day at work. He smiled at everyone he treated and took time to ask them how they were doing. He was caring today, not just in that professional way he was trained to, but truly. He was personally involved in the questions he asked and the answers he gave to the patients. Ever since he returned from Benediction last night, his mood had lifted. It felt as though he was finally free from the veil that shielded his soul from grace. It had been an oddly satisfying date. He had even continued reading the Bible from where he had stopped in Church. It was as though the fifty fifth chapter of the book of Isaiah had been written for him.
“Rejoice Ivy,” Mangodo said when he came to her bedside during ward round. “You’re leaving ICU today.”
“No kidding! You’re all set. No complications. Vitals have been consistently stable, and even your head wound is healing nicely. So yes, you’ll be moved to a private room today.”
“Cos my papa nor be Dangote, or Adeleke, but we go dey okay…” Ivy raised Bisola’s phone to her ears. “Hello?”
“Yes. Kemi, how did it go? Is he offering up to ten million?”
“Seriously? I can’t believe you emotionally blackmailed me into fronting as your legal counsel for a morally dubious contract such as this. What do you think I am? A prostitute?”
“Kemi…” The line went dead.
As Ivy dropped the phone, she realised she should have sent Bisola instead. She was about to lose the biggest contract she had ever had because of a stupid decision.
“Is everything okay?” Mangodo asked, noticing the change in Ivy’s facial expression.
“Kemi… Kemi has killed me…”
To be continued…
© Oselumhense Anetor, 2019.