The moment the words left her lips, Florence froze, wondering what had come over her. for a moment, she had forgotten that she was essentially speaking to her boss. She bit her lip and held her breath, waiting for Jide Babalola to scold her.
Jide’s reaction was the opposite of what she expected. He threw a startled look at her, then chuckled, rubbing the back of his neck.
“You may have a point. I may just be going insane from paranoia here.”
Florence swallowed her surprise. “Forgive my insolence. What I meant to say is that there’s no real proof you’re in danger.” She paused to look at the picture of the damaged brake hose on Jide’s phone. “This looks like something that could have happened over time, sir. Maybe it was just an accident.”
“And maybe it was not.” Jide said, frowning. “Anita Bankole did threaten me. And everything is not quite right with my wife, I just know it.”
Florence felt her face grow warm as she remembered what Jide had told her about his wife and mistress. He had asked for her discretion first , but the fact that he had trusted her enough to tell her at all, was humbling. He had confessed quite a lot about Anita and the pictures she had sent to his wife. Maybe too much info, Florence thought, and her face grew warmer as she imagined what the pictures had looked like.
“Well, about miss Anita….” Florence said hesitantly. “She does seem like a woman who always gets what she wants. But to the point of trying to hurt you? I don’t know about that.”
Jide shook his head, his eyes dim with memories of Anita and her fiery attitude. “You don’t know a lot about her. I think I do. She’s as fierce in anger as she is in… bed.”
Florence felt a twinge of jealousy which she pushed down. She decided to move on to something else before images of Anita and Jide entwined in ecstasy filled her head.
“Your wife could simply have forgiven you, sir.”
Jide scoffed. “Patricia? Unfaithfulness is not something she would just shelve aside. I expected her to at least call my mother or her pastor. Nothing. Just this. She’s up to something.”
Florence felt a different kind of emotion, a different type of jealousy. There was a difference in the way Jide talked about his wife and mistress. It was clear he was very fond of Patricia, despite his concerns. So why did he sleep with Miss Anita Bankole, and then kiss me?, she thought crossly.
“Why don’t you just talk to her? Be honest for once.”
This time Jide did throw Florence a sharp look and she winced and looked down apologetically. She had let her annoyance transfer into her tone.
Jide let the silence continue as he examined his reaction to the words Florence had snapped. ‘Be honest for once’, implied she was calling him dishonest or a liar. It wasn’t far from the truth- he had betrayed his wife’s confidence on all fronts- but the truth was painful. And what if she had a good point? What if he simply sat his wife down and forced her to talk about what was going on?
He surprised Florence a second time. “You may be right. Being honest may be the best option here.”
Florence nodded, and then to her dismay, a small laugh escaped her lips. Jide raised a brow.
“I’m sorry, sir. I just realized why you were asking me what I knew about cars. You actually thought I may have tampered with your brakes as well? Is there any woman in your life who likes you right now?”
Jide smiled in chagrin. “I can still trust my mother. I think.”
Florence laughed out loud, throwing her head back in amusement. Jide watched her hair bounce and her perfect dentition glisten, feeling something shift in him. The young lady before him was truly beautiful, with her whole life ahead of her. He had to make sure she knew she was totally safe from him and his impulses.
“I’m really sorry about what happened between us. We’re both adults, and it’s understandable that we can lose control sometimes, but from now on I promise to keep things strictly professional between us, Florence, despite how pretty your hair is. You have my solemn word.” Jide said, with a smile.
Florence smiled back at him, masking her true feelings. A part of her was sad, because she really liked Jide. She wished she had met him under different circumstances. They would have been great friends or even more. But she was glad he had acknowledged she had been more than an unwilling participant in their brief kiss. It made her believe he truly respected her power as a woman, but she did not know how to tell him that, so she settled for a simple… “Thank you, sir.”
Thoughts of the pretty secretary stayed with Jide throughout the day and on his way down from his office floor at the end of the work day, it occurred to him that her advice could apply in another important direction.
He made a quick turn and walked briskly toward another office in the building, hoping the occupant was still in it. Despite his new-found resolve, he still paused to take a deep breath when he reached the door of the office.
The receptionist’s desk by the door was empty, but he could hear faint shuffling sounds from the other side of the door, so he decided to just walk in unannounced.
Let’s hope I come out of the dragon’s lair alive.
Jide took a deep breath, knocked quickly and then stepped into Anita Bankole’s office before he had a chance to change his mind.