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Link to other Episodes …. https://alifediary.wordpress.com/2014/06/07/operation-stop-the-wedding-32/
“I like long walks, especially when they are taken by people who annoy me.”
― Noël Coward.
The Presentation Meeting was finally over. It had lasted longer than she’d anticipated. Dragged on by an endless stream of questions, debates, reassurances and defences, it had taken an hour and half longer to close up.
Now that it was all over, hosts and Participants were now clustering in twos and threes for the usual after-work chitchat.
Alexandra Ameze Iguodaro usually enjoyed the blow-off-steam chitchats that followed this sort of meetings. But not this time. She was running late already. Her iPad, notepad and laptop neatly gathered and dropped into her black briefcase handbag, she got swiftly to her feet. Indicating by a nod of her head that she was leaving, she left her Creative Director, Nicholas to finish off whatever was left.
She glided effortlessly on her black heels, through the elegantly furnished and conventionally designed conference hall of the Heritage Hotel towards the door, making sure to avoid eye contact with any of the chitchatting groups.
The bid for the hotel’s advertising contract had been made almost three months earlier when the newly acquired Heritage Hotel property at Adeola Odeku had still been undergoing finishing touches.
With the edifice now an awe-inspiring reality, a Presentation Meeting with only three of the bidding advertising agencies had been scheduled for that afternoon. And because they’d been just three, she hadn’t expected the meeting to take long at all.
The second her feet stepped through the open slide door into the hall, Alex raced for the elevator, hoping to be inside it before anyone would notice and stop her.
The calm grave voice of the hotel’s Advertising Manager halted her.
Alex stared at the elevator desperately, just one more step and she’d have made it too, she sighed. She was almost tempted to take that step. But this was the Manager in charge of a contract she was bidding for. So fixing a bright smile on her face she turned.
“Yes, Mr. Kwan?” For Christ’s sakes let this not be another Q & A section!
She watched with a silent desperation as the compactly built man walked towards her in what she’d come to term his unhurried-quick-steps.
“You appear to be in a hurry, Ms Alexandra.” Samson Kwan said with a pleasant smile. They’d had to settle for Ms Alexandra when he’d almost bit off his tongue trying to pronounce ‘Iguodaro’. “I’ve noticed that Nigerians seem to be always in a hurry to get somewhere, even if it’s just to go get a glass of water.”
Alex laughed smoothly, expertly hiding her impatient irritation. “Not all Nigerians really. But here in Lagos it’s almost impossible not to see people always in a hurry.”
“Ha, it’s a Lagos trend then?” Sam Kwan nodded his slightly spiky dark hair. “I must make time to see more of Nigeria while I am here.”
Alex stifled the groan that almost escaped her. “That you have to do.” Smile still in place she strenuously stopped herself from casting a desperate look at the elevator.
“Nigeria is a big and beautiful country with so many tourist attractions.” She continued smiling patiently at the dark haired middle aged Asian looking up at her. She didn’t need her four inch heels to dwarf him, even without them Mr. Samson Kwan would be lucky if his head made it to her shoulders.
“Your Presentation back there was impressive.” He said now in the same grave calm voice. “The visual slides were really simple, self-explanatory and yet highly informative.”
“Heritage Hotel as a business hotel has been known for its simple yet amazingly classy and relaxing environment.” Alex smiled at his compliment, briefly forgetting she was in a hurry. “All Raven Heights is trying to do is replicate that same environment to your clients and customers here in Nigeria.”
Sam Kwan gave a perfunctory nod. “Hmm. I also found the Presentation from Silver Lining quite interesting too.” He added with a slight arch of his bushy eyebrows.
The quick stiffening of her jaw would have gone unnoticed if Sam Kwan wasn’t a very observant man.
“I found it interesting too.” Alex angled her head to the right, keeping her tone light. “The bold flashes of colour for the billboard campaign was… expressive, for want of a better word.”
A movement from the other end of the hall caught her eye.
She didn’t need to turn her head to know it was Reginald Akin-Thomas, the MD of Silver Lining Media House, the hackles rising in her back were enough tell-tale signs.
Sam Kwan saw him too and nodded. “Ha, here comes Mr. Akin-Thomas.”
Reginald Akin-Thomas sauntered with quiet precision towards them. His eyes held a cynical lazy smile. It irritated Alex that her palms had gone damp but she merely gave him a cool smile when he stopped beside her.
Sam Kwan turned his head to him with a smile. “Ha, Mr. Akin-Thomas, all set to leave, are you?”
Reginald inclined his head. “Yes, Mr. Kwan.” Then turning his mocking smile at Alex. “I see, you and Ms Iguodaro have been… having a chat.”
“Simply relaxing after a rather long meeting.” Sam Kwan smiled amicably. He was not at all oblivious to the tension that had suddenly risen in the air. “But since I still have quite a bit to do I’ll leave you both now. Goodnight.” With a nod he turned and marched down the hall.
Ignoring the very-male figure beside her, Alex pressed the elevator button. The elevator opened almost instantly and they both stepped inside. Alex punched the Ground Floor button.
The moment the doors slid shut, she felt like the all the air inside the burgundy-carpeted elevator had been drained off. Though she’d rather have her tongue cut out than admit it, Alex had a feeling that the stifling feeling in the elevator had something to do with the imposing figure in dark-aluminium single-breasted cashmere suit.
“In a hurry to get somewhere, Ms Alexandra?” Reginald asked with a sardonic smile.
Ignoring her damp palms and jumpy heartbeats, Alex flashed him a gay smile. “Yes Reginald, I’m running late for a private engagement.”
Reginald chuckled dryly. “Indeed? With another Executive you are trying to kiss up to?”
A flash of anger seared through her – hot, sharp and scorching. But she merely smiled sweetly. “Aww, Reginald don’t tell me you are jealous you don’t have any Executives to… kiss up to?”
Reginald gave a hearty laugh as the elevator stopped and slid open. He allowed her to step out before following behind calmly. Enjoying the rear-view of her nicely packaged body in black straight-leg trouser suit.
“He’s Chinese, Alexandra. They don’t really respond to feminine wiles.” He told her scornfully.
“Really?” Alex tossed him an amused glance. “And you know this from… experience?” Her openly derisive eyes slid down and stopped just a notch below his belt. They lingered briefly, before she returned her gaze to his sardonic eyes. “And he’s Hong Konger.” She corrected in a haughty voice, tossing her dark-brown weaves.
Opening the front door of the metallic-grey SUV she slipped inside.
“That’s just semantics, Alexandra.”
“Have a good evening, Reginald.” She spared him one last look before kicking the car into gear, and driving out of the spacious parking lot.
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