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I didn’t know where the others ran to but I ran to the backyard. I listened to hear if somebody had gone to open the gate but I heard nothing.
I decided to go so I replaced my high-heeled sandals with a pair of slippers I found nearby. One of Kara’s maxi gowns was still hanging outside,so I threw it on. The knocking persisted.
“I’m coming.” I yelled as I rushed to the gate.
I glanced around and the food was still on the table in the sit-out. I sighed as there was no magic I could work at that minute. I breathed in before opening the gate.
I folded my fingers into a fist when I saw who stood grinning at the gate.
“You’re such a jerk. How dare you frighten us all like that?”
He looked at me, bewildered.
“Take a chill pill sis,what are you talking about?” He said.
I started punching his chest and murmuring incoherently. He lifted me off the ground and took me inside despite my protests.
The others had come out of hiding by this time to watch the little show I was hosting.
He dropped me on the floor. “Hi everyone”
“No hi to you” I said still pissed.
“I’m sorry sis though I’m yet to understand my crime.”
“Well, you interrupted our party. That’s your crime.” Rachel spat
“And that’s not all, you made us scamper like little rodents.” Kara added.
“I’m deeply sorry then.” Jathniel replied.
“Let’s not take it out on him. He didn’t know we were having a mini-party. Welcome Niel.” Jamille said.
“Thanks Mille, you’re a life saver.” He said.
“Mille,seriously must you always be so forgiving?” Jason spoke for the first time.
“Ask her for me o. She no gree make we vex small for this Jathniel. Na which kind tin be that?” Rachel put in.
Jamille laughed. “Niel, this is the last time I’ll plead for you before these people cut off my head.”
“Thanks. So,can I join the party?” He asked.
“Lips sealed.” Jamille said.
“You can join if you’ll take us all to Ibeno beach tomorrow.” I suggested with a sly smile.
Jathniel groaned with his hand on his face.
“You’ve got yourself a deal Miss Gloria.” He said.
“Are you serious? That’s why I love you big bro.” I squealed as I gave him a big hug.
“Yeah yeah,you have a funny way of expressing your love though.” He said,trying to free himself from the hug.
“Come sit” Rachel handed him a chair while Mille served him a plate of fried rice and chicken.
The chats continued but this time in small groups of two. Rachel was chatting and laughing with Jason. Kara and I were talking about movies we had watched. Jamille and Jathniel were having their own conversation.
“So, how’s my sis been doing over here?” Jathniel asked me.
“Oh she’s great.” I answered.
“Like me abi.”
“Says who?” I said.
“You of course. You’re a testimony of my greatness.” He replied ,sipping his drink.
“How so?” I squeezed my face pretending not to know what he was talking about.
“Your gang members and I were the ones who forced you out of your shell. At least,you don’t hide in the car anymore and you’re free with all of us. Unlike before, when you were Jason’s second skin.”
I laughed,throwing my head back.
“Yeah, you’re right. I’m indebted to you guys.” I smiled shyly.
“You may be indebted to them but not to me. It was wonderful helping you and I’ll do it all over again.” He said.
“So,did you go to work today?” I asked,trying to change the topic.
“Nope, I was home with mum all day.” He answered.
“Won’t you get punished at work or something?” I probed further.
“Punished? It’s my company girl.” He replied.
“Your what?!” I exclaimed.
“You mean Gloria never told you?” He looked surprised that I was just hearing it for the first time.
I looked down. “Well,anytime I ask her about you,she would say I should come ask you myself. So umm… I didn’t know how to walk up to you and start asking silly questions.”
“They’re not silly questions na. Feel free to come to me anytime and don’t look down when you’re talking to me.” He lifted my chin up with two fingers.
“Okay, if you say so.”
“So, I’ll make this easier for you. I’ve been looking for a bestie for a while. Will you do me the honour of being my best friend?” He asked.
“You’re funny o.” I laughed but he maintained the same smile he always had on his face.
“I’m actually serious Jamille.”
I watched her intently.
“Alright,I’ll be your best friend” she said.
“Good,so let’s talk about me.” I answered.
“Go ahead sir.”
“Of course you know I lost my dad three years ago.”
“Yeah I do,and I’m sorry about that.”she replied,her face softening a bit.
“It’s Okay. I’m sort of used to it. He left the company in my care. I was only 21 then. I was about to go for Youth Service when he passed away. I was the only one who studied architecture like my dad.”
“Niel,did you just say only one? Gloria must have been 13 then. Do you have another sibling?” She asked.
“I’m done with my food. I’ll help you pack up.” I dodged the question.
“The plates are all disposable so we’ll just trash them.” She said.
We packed the plates together,leaving the drinks on the table. Gloria winked at me as I was helping Jamille. I shook my head.
She always believed I had something for Jamille and I couldn’t convince her otherwise.
I followed Jamille to the kitchen and we disposed the plates and serviettes.
Jamille was eight years younger than me. I didn’t see how I could love or date her. She was still a kid. I only saw her as a great friend.
“So,you haven’t answered my question yet Niel.” She said.
“Oh! That was a slip of the tongue Mille.” I hoped she was convinced.
“Alright,go ahead with your story.” She urged.
” OK ma. I went for service and came back to handle the company. It’s an architectural company. Though,we’re thinking of venturing into electronics in the nearest future.” I said as we walked back to our seats.
“Wow! You’re quite wonderful. You’ve been taking care of your mum and sister since then right?” She asked
“Yeah sure. That’s the least I can do for them. They’re all I’ve got. Neither my dad nor my mum have any siblings so we’re pretty much alone.”
“Eya. Now you’ve got a best friend.” She said.
“Yeah I do.”
“So,what’s the name of the company?” She asked.
“Crystals Ltd.” I answered.
“It’s few minutes to nine o’clock. Mum will be worried, I have to go.” I informed her.
“So soon?” She asked and I nodded.
“People,I’m leaving.” I announced to the rest.
“You’ve finished gisting abi. You guys have had your fun and you want to go.” Gloria challenged.
“Yes madam ‘you guys’. I’ll be here tomorrow by 1pm. Hope you guys will be ready by then.”
“Sure thing,you can count on us. I’ll force them to be ready on time.” Jason
“Alright ,bye guys and bye bestie. Have a great night.” I slipped out as quickly as I could to avoid Gloria. I knew she’d talk. I stood outside the gate eavesdropping to hear what she would tell Jamille.
“Which one is bestie again?” I heard Gloria ask.
Jamille laughed ” I don’t know o.”
I decided I had heard enough. I got into my Toyota Corolla and drove off.
To Be Continued