Ama and Ovie were in her office plotting how to get PA to fall in love with Toyosi. Each had his or her reasons for wanting the relationship to work. Ovie knew that Zina was not attracted to him but he hoped that with time, he could win her over. If PA developed an interest in her, that desire would have to be thrown out of the window because there was no way he was going to sacrifice a friendship of many years (not to mention his source of livelihood) for unrequited love.
He had asked Zina about their conversation that day but she only said PA had been nice enough to keep her company till he appeared. When he went to PA to apologize for the intrusion, he waved him off and said nothing more. Since he couldn’t ask him outrightly why he had spent so much time alone with a woman, in obvious contrast to his practice, he had had to agonize privately that his interest in Zina was about to be jeopardized.
On the other hand, Ama had received an interesting phone call from Toyosi. She was convinced that the woman would be an ally if she married PA. If PA married a stranger, she might lose her place in his life and even her job, depending on how paranoid his wife was. Toyosi had begged her to help her win PA and made generous promises. Already, a bottle of perfume had arrived on her desk the morning after the teenage event, sealing their symbiotic relationship. If she played her role, Toyosi would be eternally grateful to her. There was no downside to the plan.
“I have already fixed a meeting with Toyosi, PA, you and I to run through her plans for her teenage group. The idea is that you end up with stomach ache and spend most of the meeting in the bathroom. I will come up with an excuse to leave them alone,” Ama was saying.
“What if he decides to re-schedule?”
“I don’t think he will but if he tries to, she will tell him that that day is her only free day.”
“Hmm. I doubt the issue is that he has not been seeing her…”
“The issue is he has been seeing her in an official setting. In the café, things will be more relaxed and he will loosen up. Besides, it is at an hour when patronage will be low and I have reserved a table in the VIP section.”
Ovie crossed his legs in his chair, tapping his knee thoughtfully. “Is this girl the right girl for him? Are we pushing the wrong person to him?”
“We are not doing anything wrong. Do you see PA going out of his way to meet girls? He won’t attend social events; he is surrounded by you guys after church, even while preaching I don’t know if he shuts his eyes…”
At that, Ovie laughed. “Come on. He doesn’t shut his eyes.”
“Then why has he not noticed the bevy of fine girls in church. Check the ushers: We have an abundance of leggy, shapely beauties there”, she snapped irritably.
Ovie shook his head. “Maybe he needs a wife from outside Nigeria.”
“God forbid! So she will come in and throw me out?” she snapped her fingers in the characteristic Nigerian way of dispelling evil thoughts and notions.
“See this one! Are you his mother?” Ovie laughed.
“Yes, I am. Do you have a problem with that?”
“Nope. You do the job well.”
“Let me return some phone calls. I will check in later.” Ovie rose to leave.
“Ovisco, wait. Who bought that shirt for you? It is different from your usual style.” Ama stopped him with a wink.
“You like it?” He preened.
“Who bought it?” She ignored his question.
“Which Becky? Ovie, sit down and give me the gist.” Ama was nearly falling out of her chair in her eagerness to get details.
“The one in the choir.”
“The one PA suspended?”
“She said I should help her beg him; that she is in love with Nnamdi and she wants him to allow them continue their relationship. He has been keeping away from her as per PA’s instructions.”
Ama clapped her hands and laughed a mocking laugh. “These old birds! Don’t tell me your pants are a gift from her rival, Nkiru?”
“You guessed right.”
“Yes. She sent them to me yesterday so I decided to wear both today. They certainly have good taste.” Ovie shrugged nonplussed.
“And have you spoken to PA about lifting their suspensions?”
“Do I look demented to you? He will conclude that I am sleeping with them. If it is a joke, stop it O!”
Ama laughed again, slapping her hand on her desk. “Ovisco, Ovisco! Nothing do you.”
He smiled as he opened her door to make his exit.
Toyosi was driving out of a makeup artist’s salon close to the venue of her meeting with PA. She had changed out of her jeans and top into a form-fitting red dress with an asymmetrical neckline. Its hem stopped below her knees but that was the only holy thing about the dress. Even Shade, the makeup artist had whistled as she exited the changing room.
She wore her braids in a pigtail, with minimal jewelry, nude pumps and a red clutch. Shade had plumped her lips up in the perfect shade of red designed to focus the attention of any love interest on thoughts that had nothing to do with spreading the gospel. Her excitement was palpable as she tapped her steering in tune with the music from the car radio. She could feel it in her bones. This would be the make or break meeting. She could not continue to wait on PA. He needed to make a move on her or she would move on.
At the venue she sent Ama a text to ascertain whether PA was already seated. Her plan was to make a grand entry, giving him enough time to appreciate the effort God put into crafting her. She wanted him on edge throughout the meeting. She wanted him to stutter. She wanted him to avoid making eye contact with her or anyone else for fear of what they would read in his eyes.
But she intended to be relentless. She would ooze the sex appeal. His was to just say the word and things could move to the next level.
“How did this man even survive without a woman in his life for years?” she thought aloud as she typed.
Her text was replied immediately. She was to wait three minutes, giving time for her accomplices to desert PA and then she could come in in all her glory.
PA was on the phone with a friend of his from the university who was new in town. Idoko was his classmate and friend who had lived in South Africa for 9 years. His return to Nigeria was to set up a training school for movie production.
“Just come in when you can. I will be here for at least 30 minutes,” PA was saying.
“Okay, thanks. I really appreciate you making out time for me,” Idoko said.
“You would do the same.”
“But you are a pastor. I don’t have needy parishioners bugging my phone,” he chuckled.
“No, you don’t, but you have all sorts of dubious girls bugging your life.”
“What can I say? It comes with the territory. Every girl now wants to be a model, actress, singer, or whatever it takes to land a magazine cover.”
“You need a solid girl, a girl who will keep you grounded.”
“Look who’s talking? Are you married yourself? There isn’t even anyone in the horizon, last I heard,” Idoko teased.
“Never say never, guy. Things may be changing very soon.”
“Really, PA? You met someone?”
“Get here and I’ll give you details.”
“That’s it. I’m canceling all my meetings and heading to where you are.”
“Good. That sounds more like the Id I know.”
“See you shortly.”
PA had ended the call but he did not know that he was still holding the phone to his ears. Toyosi had just walked in, taking her sweet time to catwalk across the café till she got to his table which was at a corner. Its position allowed him to feast his eyes on her while she sashayed in but she could only make out his silhouette. He looked around for Ama and Ovie wondering what was keeping them. Ama had just left to take a call while Ovie went to the bathroom. It was improper for him to be alone with Toyosi.
He dropped the phone and rose to greet her when she got to his table. She ignored the hand he extended for a handshake and reached over for a hug. He was startled but he did not betray any emotion.
“Good morning, PA. I hope I did not keep you waiting,” she cooed, batting her eyelids at him.
“That’s fine. I know the traffic can be hectic.” He reached over and pulled out a chair for her.
She smiled her thanks before taking a seat, as slowly as possible. PA narrowed his gaze. He could feel a change in her attitude and he did not like being put in a tight corner. Adjusting his dark blazer, he sat opposite her.
“Ovie and Ama will be joining us shortly,” he apologized.
“You are all the company I need,” she replied smoothly.
He cleared his throat but did not say anything more. A waiter approached them and asked Toyosi what she would like. She ordered coffee. PA asked for orange juice.
“Have you had breakfast?” he asked her.
“No but coffee is all I will have for now. Thank you for your kindness,” she replied.
He waved the waiter away and crossed his legs. “So have you come up with a name for your teen group?”
“Ermmm. I haven’t given it much thought actually,” she said.
His only reply was a raised brow.
“I mean, I always feel inspired after being with you. You just ooze so much anointing. I feel like ideas flood my mind after an encounter with you. Don’t be surprised if I call you later today to say a name popped into my mind as I drove out. You have that effect on me.” She laughed coyly, her head angled to one side with the most bashful of expressions on her face.
“Thank you. You are too kind. Let me check on Ovie. I hope all is well.” He made to rise but she stopped him with a hand on his.
“I’m sure he is fine. Don’t you think you baby him too much?”
He was so shocked that he sat down. “Do you think so?”
She shrugged delicately. He bit his lip in thought. Perhaps he was mollycoddling Ovie. Maybe that was why he had been unable to find his own feet years after leaving school. He often worried that Ovie depended too much on him, despite earning a decent salary and other benefits. Ovie was often out of cash before the month ended. He used PA’s cars and other gadgets and never really appeared to fend for himself. PA had given him a talking to on many occasions and even threatened to kick him out but did not have the heart to carry out his threat. He suspected that Ovie knew this and was taking advantage of that fact.
His phone rang before he could say anything.