Please note that this series contains some sexually explicit content, violence and offensive language. It is not appropriate for children nor an immature and sensitive audience.
A SMALL WORLD - SEASON THREE
Copyright © Ufuomaee
Michael arrived at the hospital to find Linda sleeping and Lisa reading a book by her bed. There were two other beds in the hospital room, and one was occupied with another cancer patient, while the other was vacant. Michael had been escorted to Linda’s room by her oncology nurse, who had been on her way to check on her too. Lisa rose up when she spotted her husband.
She went to him and threw her arms around him. “Thank God you came!!”
Michael hugged her back and they walked together to Linda’s bed. She looked so delicate, with the IV drip connected to her via a port, and so many tubes connected to machines that were feeding her her medication and also monitoring her health. He went to the other side of her bed and planted a soft kiss on her cheek, before sitting down. He watched as the nurse attended to Linda, before moving to the next patient.
“Have you been home since?” he asked Lisa.
“I couldn’t. I can’t leave her alone…”
“What about Lynette?” he asked after her sister.
“She was with me yesterday, but she’s at work now. She said she’ll come tonight.”
“I’m here now… You need to go home and sleep. You look worn.”
“I can’t think of how I look now…” Lisa protested.
“Please… Give me one less thing to worry about, okay? She’s in the best children’s hospital in the USA. She’ll be fine for a few hours without you. And you have to think about how your presentation will affect her too. Take care of yourself, and come back when you’re rested. I’m here.”
Lisa swallowed. “Okay, I will. Thanks.”
Michael watched as she rose up and kissed Linda, before carrying her bag and leaving the room. He sighed deeply, resting his head back on his seat. This was really happening…
He rose up, wondering what more he could do besides waiting for Linda to wake up. He decided he would go and have a word with the doctors and nurses, and get himself abreast of everything that was in store for them.
Amaka sat in the waiting room of the producer’s office, reading one of the fashion magazines they had laid out on the coffee table. A glance at the wall clock showed that it was already thirty minutes past her appointment time, which meant that she’d been waiting a whole hour now. She sighed and decided to exercise more patience.
She had been informed that he was engaged in a meeting when she arrived and that he would call her in shortly. She’d taken the time to admire his tasteful surroundings. She hadn’t been up to his suite when she’d previously attended for auditions. They’d been held in a simple event hall downstairs. However, his waiting area was anything but simple.
Awards and framed pictures of Mr Ekanem and several different celebrities and politicians lined the white walls, highlighted by spotlights. He was clearly very successful and influential. She felt honoured that she was about to meet someone of his calibre. Though she wasn’t new to the world of celebrities, she kept few friends among them. She also didn’t know many of the Nigerian elite personally.
The door to Mr Ekanem’s office suddenly swung open, with a burst of chatter, as the previous occupants left the room. None paid her any attention as they walked across to the lift. She watched as the doors to the elevator shut and one man remained. She wondered if it was the producer.
He turned to her and offered her a dashing smile. “Ms Nkechi… I’m sorry for keeping you waiting…” he said in a faux-American accent, as he walked back in her direction. Amaka recognised the man who’d applauded and raved about her performance on Saturday. He looked so much younger than in his pictures.
Amaka rose up from her seat and plastered a smile on her face, while stretching her hand out to greet him. “It was no problem, sir,” she said.
Andikan Ekanem was happy to see the beautiful Amaka Nkechi again. She was as, or even more, stunning than he remembered. Instinctively, he licked his lips as he appraised her frame. He took her hand and shook it firmly. “You can call me Andi. Step into my office.”
Amaka swallowed, trying not to notice the way Andi’s eyes had just undressed her in the lobby. She carried her handbag and strolled in after him. His office was also tastefully decorated, with a long, white sofa and a black, steel executive table and chairs. A white, faux-fur rug was strewn on the polished, granite floor by the sofa, which lacked a coffee table. Rather, a nest of black, steel stands laid beside it. The man clearly had style.
Amaka’s eyes were still busy taking in the room that she hadn’t noticed that Andi hadn’t gone to sit behind his desk, as she’d expected, but on his sofa. She eventually stopped in the middle of the room, by the small conference table, and observed her host. He had a mischievous smile on his face that she was far too familiar with.
“Are you just going to stand over there…? Come, sit, let’s chat.”
Amaka strode over to the sofa and took a seat at the edge of it. Andi edged in closer. She took in a deep breath.
Andi sat up straight and turned to her. Just as she was thinking he would do something totally inappropriate, he said, “That was quite a performance you put on on Saturday…”
Amaka smiled thinly. “Thank you.”
“I think you’d do well in that role, but I was also hoping you could show me some of your diversity,” Andi said, looking at her pointedly. He licked his lips again. “Some, tenderness maybe…”
Amaka swallowed. She looked right back at him. “I’m not sure what you mean, sir.”
Andi smiled and placed a hand on Amaka’s thigh. “There is a soft side to you, isn’t there?”
Amaka looked at his hand on her thigh and anger rose up in her. She grabbed his hand and flung it away from her, as if it was diseased. She rose up, indignant. “I don’t know who or how old you think I am, but I’m not so desperate to sleep with you for a part!”
“Hmmm…” Andi sat up, clasped his hands together and studied her. She was fuming. He smiled. “You don’t even know how to play nice. You’d make a bad actress. I guess I was wrong…”
“Are you serious right now?! What sort of stupid audition is this?”
He rose up and walked towards her. “You have so much anger… You need to take it easy. It’s not that serious, babe.” He reached out to touch her face, and Amaka flinched. He sighed, dropping his hand. “You can tell a lot about someone by how they respond to situations… I can see you’ve never had to fight for anything you want before…”
Amaka relaxed, wondering if she had over-reacted. If she had misjudged the situation. She saw the glint arise in his eyes as his confidence returned at her display of doubt. “Look, do I have the part or not?” She didn’t know if she even wanted it anymore, but she was desperate. She needed the money, and this wasn’t just a job. It was a stepping stone to a profitable career, she hoped.
“Have dinner with me…” Andi said, folding his arms across his chest. “I’ll let you know my decision then.”
“So, when am I seeing you again?”
Femi watched as the two ticks beside his message on the WhatsApp chat turned blue. He smiled at the screen, anticipating Zahra’s response. The status bar showed that she was ‘typing…’.
“Lol! What you doing tonight?” came her response.
He started to type a reply, when a notification came in about a message from his friend, Andrew. The alert read “Dude, have you seen this?!”
Femi clicked on it to read the message. There was a link to an article on This Day newspaper, with a picture preview of Dwayne Johnson, and a caption “Footballer Dwayne Johnson and Actress Nini Igiehon are Expecting Their Second Child…” His jaw dropped, and he clicked the link to read the complete article.
“You there?” Zahra’s message notification read.
Some minutes later, when Femi had finished the article, he finally responded to Zahra. “Yeah… Sorry. Something came up. Tonight’s not good… I’ll call you.”
After he sent it, he looked for Victoria on his WhatsApp. He had to talk to her. She must be crushed by this news. He noticed that she’d taken down the picture of herself and Dwayne, which she’d put up since the Akunne wedding some months back. That had been the moment everyone had known that Dwayne was in a serious relationship.
So, how could this have happened? Was it a mistake? Or was Dwayne done playing? Femi didn’t know why he was so angry all of a sudden.
“Hey… What’s up?” he wrote, when he’d opened their chat.
The message was sent, but hadn’t been delivered. He tried her number and it failed to connect. She must be having network issues. Either way, he’d have to pay her a visit tonight. He wanted to be sure that she was okay.
Why are you acting as if it’s a big deal?! It’s not like it’s something you haven’t done before?
But I don’t do that anymore! I’ve changed!
What? You mean, you’re still claiming ‘born again’?
What do you mean? I am saved, nau…
Ha! Haaa! Abeg, let me hear word!
I may not be as passionate as I was, but I still believe. And I can’t sleep with someone to get ahead. Not anymore.
Okay… Then pray, oh. Because, that producer, he’s only after one thing!
Amaka sighed. Not too long ago, she wouldn’t have been bothered by Mr Ekanem’s advances. In fact, she was someone who eagerly used her beauty to get favours from men. She knew how to play them, how to make them drool and ask for more, even without giving up the goods. But today, she’d felt offended and afraid by Andikan’s advances. She was afraid because she thought she may not be a strong enough Christian to deny him… Especially when she was so broke!
She’d been to the bank earlier in the day to enquire about her account. It turned out that an automated annual charge had been placed on her card, and had zapped the balance she had been banking on. She had a little over N100,000 to her name and she felt desperate. But she shouldn’t have to sell herself to get a part that she clearly deserved! What was she going to do?
She’d agreed to dine with Andi to give herself more time to process what was happening and decide what she would do. And he’d just sent a text with the name of the hotel he wanted them to meet for their dinner date. God help me! I should have just said no outrightly!
She didn’t have to go. She could just ignore the text. Forget about the part… Look for another job. But what if she came across this situation again?
She knew that it was common in this line of work. Show business was filled with many desperate people and few powerful ones, who often used their power to demand sexual favours of those seeking to get ahead. She was quite positive that if she ran from this wolf, she would come face to face with his kind again! There had to be something she could do about it.
Amaka pulled out her phone and googled “What to do when your producer demands sex”. As Amaka read about this abuse casually termed “casting-couch syndrome”, she grew angry. Angry at the men and at the women who allowed themselves to be used because of desperation. No, she couldn’t let this one slide. She would fight it…
She decided to search for law firms that dealt with civil and criminal cases, including sexual harassment law-suits. She came across a few names, and a particular name and picture stood out from among them. There was something very familiar about that name. She clicked on the LinkedIn profile the search result linked to and gasped when she saw the picture of the man, who she had met only twice in her life, but still plagued her dreams.
Bolu Adetayo. Senior Partner at Crowne Legal. Oh my God?! Is this fate?!
For the next thirty minutes, Amaka poured through every information she could learn about this mysterious Bolu. He was married with a kid. His wife was really pretty, she thought. They looked happy. But something about the picture called to her.
She swallowed, knowing that she would see him. She just had to.
To be continued...
Photo credit: www.unsplash.com
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