Raymond stepped out of the elevator clad in a black suit over a black trouser and a pair of black suit. Even as strange as it may sound, his best color is black and he never fail to show it. Hence, even if he is dressed in some other colors, there has to be a touch of black.
“Good morning sir.” His Personal assistant, Nancy, a young lady of about twenty three greeted as soon as he stepped into the lobby.
“Morning Nancy, how was the weekend?” He replied.
“Fine sir. Congratulations on your engagement.” She said trying to catch up with him.
Since he proposed to Tasha over a week ago, he hasn’t been to work, having taken the week off to rest and take care of some personal businesses.
“Thanks.” Raymond acknowledged. “What are my plans for today?”
“You have a meeting with the heads of departments at nine. A behind closed doors meeting with the HR and Finance heads and lastly a meeting with the entourage of the DG, state ministry for culture and tourism about the upcoming Pageantry.” Nancy read out to him in a hurry.
“Fast track my meeting with Finance and HR managers. The one with the ministry should be moved till tomorrow. Check for a free hour tomorrow and communicate the changes to them.” He instructed.
“But sir, we have been postponing the meeting with the ministry, I think it is high time we met them and get it over and done with.” Nancy explained.
“Any implications?” Raymond asked. “We can only meet them when we are free. We have a lot lined up for us for the next couple of months, and a meeting with a state ministry will not help our cause. Ministry of culture for that matter.”
“May seem like that sir, but I think at this stage, even the less relevant government agency can help us.” Nancy argued.
“I thought you said they wanted a meeting to see if we could sponsor the upcoming pageant?” Raymond asked.
“Yes sir.” Nancy replied.
“Let the two o’clock this afternoon remain as it is.” Raymond instructed.
“Okay sir.” Nancy smiled.
“You will represent me in the meeting as well as represent the company. Have the PR unit and Finance notified ahead and brief them after the meeting.” Raymond dropped the shocker.
“Sir, I don’t understand…..” She stammered.
By now they were outside his office. “Get me coffee please.” He said as he pushed opened the door and walked in. As soon as he shut the door behind himself, he leaned against the door as the thought which had disturbed his sleep for days came back in a rush.
Even though he wanted to believe everything is fine between him and Natasha, his subconscious will not let him be. Judging from how they parted the other night, he knew just about anybody would be offended, but he hoped Tasha doesn’t read meanings into his statement.
“Call her.” A voice whispered.
Just as he brought out his phone to make the call he could hear an angry voice and a calm persuasive voice outside the hallway.
“I’m sorry sir, but he just stepped in now, he can’t host visitors until he clears me to send them in.” That was Nancy, his assistant.
“Well, young lady I am not a visitor here and I demand to see Raymond right now.” The angry masculine voice replied.
Now, Raymond could tell whoever the man was is someone very close to him, as he is not on a first name bases with a lot people.
“I’m afraid you may have to come back.” Nancy replied.
“Come back? To see my friend?”
“I’m afraid so sir. It is nowhere on the calendar today that Mr. Raymond would host any friend or acquaintance in his office.”
“Step away and let me in.” The man threatened.
Raymond knew he was supposed to step out and settle things but with Alk he had on his mind, he possibly couldn’t add another drama to it.
“If you know what is good for you.”
“I’m sorry sir, but this is protocol. You can’t see the CEO without an advance notification through my office.” Nancy replied. “The only people who can see him without such are his immediate family members, fiancé and the co-CEO of this company.”
“What is going on here?” Halima, the Secretary to the CEO’s office asked as she walked in.
“Good morning ma’am.” Nancy greeted.
“Nancy, good morning.” Halima replied. “Good morning sir.” She greeted Raheem.
“Halima, what’s happening on this floor? When did we have a PA to the CEO’s office?”
“It was a decision of the HR.” Halima replied.
“Is Raymond in?” Raheem asked.
Halima looked at Nancy for confirmation to which she nodded in affirmation. “He is sir.”
Without another word, Raheem side stepped the two ladies and walked towards Raymond’s office.
Nancy gave up on protocol after all, he immediate supervisor, Halima was present and that means she can’t do anything except to watch. And judging from the frequent use of ‘sir’ by Halima, She knew it was far from being polite. The man called her by her first name and that implies that they knew each other.
“Who is he?” Nancy whispered.
“The co-CEO.” Halima replied.
The shock and fear was clearly written on Nancy’s face.
“He is a nice man, nothing will happen.” Halima assured her.
Inside Raymond’s office
“You were in here the whole time and your toothless dog was been disrespecting me?” Raheem asked as he took a seat. “I bet my voice was loud enough and you heard me or do we now have sound proof doors too?”
“Didn’t know it was you.” Raymond replied.
Raheem chuckled. “Like seriously?”
“Yeah. I swear.” Raymond replied.
“Away from that, how come your PA doesn’t know me?”
“The same reason everyone on this floor doesn’t know much about their co-CEO. You are never around.” Raymond replied.
“Fair point.” Raheem laughed. “And when do I get my own personal assistant?” He asked. “I don’t even have a secretary. Cos the last I heard, my Secretary was transferred to PR.”
“You do not get a Personal assistant cos you don’t need one. And about your secretary, she was doing virtually nothing cos you never show up at work. And the company doesn’t pay pension.” Raymond replied.
Raheem laughed. “You don’t mean all these, do you?”
“Of course I do. I’m thinking of turning your office into a Suya and barbecue joint with palm wine to go cos you are never there.” Raymond replied.
“You are not going to do that. And even you know I have been very frequent in the last few months.” Raheem replied.
“And in the last one week you have been absent.” Raymond fired back. “I will use your salary to buy tricycle and empower the area boys who sits idle at my estate junction.”
Raheem was enjoying himself. Such was the banter he threw around with his best friend and even though Raymond always winning he enjoys being the victim.
“On a more serious note, where have you been?” Raymond asked.
“Ikare.” Raheem replied.
“Ikare in Ondo state?” Raymond asked with eyes wide open.
Ikare is Raheem’s father’s ancestral home, even though he claims Lagos as his state of Origin, their family members are still in Ikare.
Raheem took a deep breath before responding. “Dad is thinking of returning home.”
“How?” Raymond asked with a confused look.
“He is retiring from politics and public life. Leaving the stage for we the youths. And he figured out that the peace and tranquility abundant there in Ikare is what he needs.” Raheem explained.
“That’s a lot to take in bro.” Raymond remarked.
The two friends discussed for a little while longer until Raheem stood up to leave.
“See you at the club tonight.” He said.
Raymond smiled. “I am no longer that club guy.”
“Why? Cos you are engaged now right?” Raheem asked rhetorically. “Bro, it is only engage you engage, if you come marry nko?”
“It’s not even about my engagement. You know sometimes, a man has to become responsible.” Raymond replied.
There was a knock on the door and Raymond’s assistant, Nancy, walked in.
“P.A, I hope you know me now?” Raheem asked.
“Very well sir, and I am deeply sorry for what happened earlier.” Nancy replied.
“See you later bro.” Raymond said shaking hands with Raheem.
“Yeah. And thanks for subtly calling me irresponsible.” Raheem replied.
As soon as he shut the door behind him he waited and a minute later, Nancy emerged from the office.
“What time do you get off work?” Raheem asked as they walked down the hallway.
“Six thirty.” She replied.
“Meet me at Teq club, I’ll love to buy you a drink.”
As Raheem rode the elevator back to the ground floor, his mind wandered back to the discussion he had with Raymond. “How come he didn’t bring up the issue of the IPO?” He thought as he left the company’s premises.
To be Continued