Gladys is a young woman from a deprived background and newly arrived in Lagos. Estranged from her aunt, she is a rather cynical of rich people. While still building her new relationship with her Aunt Isioma, she meets wealthy egoist, edward, who is surprisingly kindhearted. Gladys is smitten by his looks and more importantly his interest in her, though she continues to believe he's out of her league. Edward is highly attracted to Gladys physically but he realises he may have set up his heart for a fall. His shadowed past has left him deeply scarred by events that occurred when he was younger ...
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About an hour after she disembarked from the bus, Gladys stopped to check if she was on the right path. She'd trundled her box along the street engrossed by the spectacular architecture on all sides. Well designed residential houses and the more imposing offices sat way back from the road with painted aluminum roofs and high metal gates. She now stood before the enormous construction site of an almost complete church whose grandeur was not diminished by the swarming laborers or the wooden scaffolding. Stained glass windows depicting scenes from the bible reflected off the marble walls and a massive pillared gateway framed a paved court yard. The laughter and whistles of the laborers when they noticed her gawking reminded her of the otherwise deserted street.
Gladys walked a few more feet, took another peek at her journal and concluded she was truly lost. She held up the journal in confusion. She'd sketched the directions at a mobile phone kiosk during an earlier conversation to inform Aunt Isioma of her arrival. Then, the route looked clear enough, but now she knew the hazy map wouldn't be much help in locating the right way. She looked back at the construction site. A couple of the bare-chested men drew away from the group and moved closer to her. One called out something, probably in Yoruba, which she didn't understand; the other winked with a suggestive leer and a complex hand gesture.
She ignored them and instead walked rapidly to put some distance between them, and then studied her map more closely. She looked up the street again, then down at the map repeatedly, her brows furrowing as she tried to identify a landmark. She could not identify the street she was on the map. Her heart began to race, her underarms broke out in sweat and she felt like crying. The luggage she was pulling felt like a burden. She was afraid they were going to rob her or worse rape her. As the laborers gained on her, she recalled her mother's question before they said goodbye at the Trans-Ekulu Motor Park not too far from their home.
-Can you find the address on your own? Perhaps you should wait to be picked up...
Gladys had shrugged. -That will take too long. I'll call Aunt Isioma to get the directions and I'll be fine. I'm a big girl, Mama. I can get there without any problem.
She shook her head as she stared at the map again but was jerked out of her self-mockery when the gate of the house ahead of her opened with a loud clang. A black Mercedes S class model with tinted windows purred out. She stared at it in appreciation as it turned towards her, distracted from her quandary for the moment. She took a step back, startled, when the car stopped beside her. Her mouth almost gaped when the back passenger window rolled down. She couldn't help but note the looks of the man who stared back at her. He was very attractive, probably in his mid-thirties, with a certain stamp of authority all over him. His hair was bushier than she usually saw on men his age, but it was full and well-combed. The line between his deep set golden- brown eyes looked ingrained over the strong nose and pink lips accentuated by his dark skin.
-May I help you?
-No... I'm OK. She stammered in uncertainty. His thick brows were raised and he must have known she was staring at him; he probably got that look from a lot of women.
-That doesn't seem to be case from where I'm sitting. His deep voice was mellow but his stare sharpened with suspicion as they went to her large box.
-Erm... I think I've lost my way, she burst out without much thought. She could have kicked herself. That sounded so lame and suspicious. Why couldn't she have thought of something that would make her not seem like a dim-witted character?
His eyebrows climbed his high forehead again. -Is that so?
-Yes. She caught the sympathetic eye of the driver through the front window. She pulled the tatters of her almost non-existent dignity and began again. -My aunt lives at... She looked down at her journal, stumbled over the address and continued. -This is my first visit and I may have taken a wrong turn as I walked...
He scrutinized her for a few seconds and gestured towards the car. She didn't understand at first and stared at him till he repeated the motion.
-What? You want me to...
-Get in. He bent away and swung open the back passenger door on the far side.
-Why? Where do you want to take me? Well no one could blame her for asking. She'd heard so many scary things about Lagos, including about rich men who kidnapped ladies for rituals.
-Where else but to the address you gave me? His snap dragged her out of her scattered thoughts. His driver chuckled but gave her an encouraging nod with another smile.
Gladys was a little hesitant; there was no hint of softening on his face. She glanced up at the two laborers who were still standing a few feet away. What a dilemma.
-Well you can just get me to the end of the road and point out the right direction... He cut her off.
-I said we'll drive you there. Get in. His terse voice ended the conversation. It was clear he had no time for chit-chat.
Another car honked behind his and the driver pulled over to make way, popping open the car trunk in the process. Gladys decided to trust him and stowed her luggage away. Rather him and the kind driver than those men who were still looking at her like bait to fish. She scrambled into the car with a mutter of reluctant thanks and the hope that it wasn't too far out of his way. She caught his gaze for a moment before she took in the total person. He was tall, and the suit he wore was impeccable. His cologne was light but musky still; it perfumed the interior of the car. It crept into her nostrils and raised images of both of them together, dressed for a night out.
Gladys forced her gaze away and glanced around. The large sports car was spacious and lavishly appointed. She admired the shiny fixtures and automatic controls between the front bucket seats. The whole interior was fitted with smooth tan leather. She could imagine her car-loving brother's envy when she told him about it later. A few minutes later, they drew up before another mansion.