False Pretenses (Episode Four). By Peju Amadi

Ise was the first and only son of Multibillionaire businessman, Chief Oyewole Stephen Williams, now
retired and really enjoying retirement. The mandate had fallen upon him four years back when he’d hit thirty one years and his father had been forced to retire due to work stress affecting his health. Ise had taken over the group of companies and it was doing extremely well, they were recording large profit's in an economy where other big corporations like his had gone under. He’d been well trained, right from his elementary education, he’d attended the best schools in the world and luckily he’d been born with an intelligent brain that hardly took a break. He was always looking for the next big thing, he’d taken after his father who had taken his own father’s thriving construction business and built it into a multinational group of companies, delving into other sectors like manufacturing, telecoms and now Ise was moving them into the Oil sector, it was about time they got into it, the time was right.

Ise was a hard worker and wasn’t the type to sit by idly. Whenever he managed to, his brain was still constantly working, it never rested but these days he managed to relax and have the weekends to himself. Back in college, he’d once been advised to go on a two week compulsory break because his brain had been overworking itself. He’d adhered to the doctors advice but still the brain hadn’t wanted to cool off, he’d still been seeing calculations and management theories in his head. He’d managed to overcome it all and had graduated top of his class and then went on to Harvard business School where he’d again been top. He’d come back to Nigeria and had worked with his dad for five years, learning the ropes and then his dad had handed it all to him four years back.

“Ise.”

He saw the slender hand with perfectly manicured fingernails on the table first before trailing it up, already knowing who it was. He would know that voice anywhere, a man could never forget the voice of the woman he’d almost gotten married to.

“Izy.” He said, consciously holding back from adding ‘luv’. Izyluv had been the love of his life before she’d gone and shattered his heart, blaming her actions on him for never being there for her because of his busy work schedule. She looked really good, as she usually did anyway.

“You’re having dinner?” She asked and he nodded, she smiled “Alone?”

He shrugged “Kenny was supposed to join me but cancelled at the last minute.” He replied taking in the
way her lips thinned when he mentioned Kenny. She still hated the guy, he could see. Kenny had been the one to break the news of her infidelity to him and Ise knew she carried a deep resentment for him because of that, prior to it she and Kenny had been best of friends.

“You really should keep better company, Ise.” She told him.

He frowned “What do you mean?”

“Just friendly advice, that’s all. You know how Kenny is, the guy is a classic ass.”

He raised a brow “You’re one to talk.” He let out before he could stop himself and saw the look of pain cross her eyes. His words had cut deep and he felt bad, must have been the annoyance from being quite hungry. He and Izy had moved past their issues and maintained a good friendship now, she cared for him as a friend and they had too much history to hate each other because of what had happened between them.

“Right.” She said with a slight smile managing to cover up her pain “You’re looking good anyway, it’s been quite a while and I just……”

“Izy, you know Kenny is my friend and the finance director for the group, I can’t exactly avoid him. I know how to handle his excesses besides he does a darn good job.” He explained trying to ease the hurt he’d just caused.

She sighed lightly “I’m sure he does, Ise but just keep an eye on ….”

“Hey babe.” Some other guy breezed in, grabbing Izy to himself by the waist and planting an unexpected kiss on her cheek. Izy turned to look at him and smiled, obviously knowing the guy. Ise felt his heart  wrench at the smile she gave him. He’d believed he was over her but wasn’t so sure at that moment.

“Babe.” She called the guy “You’re here already? I thought you would be a while still,”

“Yeah, I didn’t want to keep you waiting.” He told her before turning his eyes to finally notice Ise. “Hi, I’m Joe.” He said extending a hand.

Ise got up and received his hand, he was always polite. “I’m Ise Williams.” Joe nodded “Yeah, I know that. You’re celebrity in the business world and besides I know you’ve been friends with Bella since childhood.”

“Oh, She told you that?” His eyes turning back to Izy. ‘Bella’? He wondered, she was indeed a belle, and
the name did fit and seemed to dwindle his paltry ‘Izyluv’.

“Yes, I did.” Izy replied, he guessed this one was serious then. “Joe is an investment banker……”Her voice trailed off as Ise noticed a commotion toward the entrance of the restaurant and his eyes naturally went there. It seemed some security operatives were taking out someone. There were two operatives, holding a lady by the arm and leading her out. He frowned, feeling a recognition of that
figure, camel blouse, black skirt and five inch heels! His eyes widened, it had to be because that stunning figure was unmistakable. As if reading his mind, she turned back briefly, their eyes meeting. It took her a second to register his face, she was indeed stunning, Ise thought as if forgetting how she’d looked when he’d seen her earlier that day. He saw the exact moment her recognition of him dawned on her. Her slanted almond shaped eyes widened and he saw realization and then shock.

She had turned back now as they were taking her out the door, he had to go after her.

“Errrr, I’m sorry guys, I think I just saw someone I know being arrested, please let me see what's
happening.”

“Oh, by all means, please do.” Joe spoke up.

“Can I have your card?” Ise asked. He always collected cards of people he found interesting and this ‘Joe’ definitely looked like he was. As Joe fished for his card, he turned to Izy. “it's been good seeing you again.”

She smiled “You too.”

Accepting Joe’s card, he made his way outside. "Hey" he called to the guards, how did one call these guys? His driver, Sal who also doubled as his private security stepped out of the SUV where he'd been waiting and joined him to approach the guards..

Her eyes widened again on seeing him and this time they registered fear, she’d clearly not thought he’d come after her. Maybe she’d thought he wouldn’t recognize her, highly unlikely. She should know her looks were one of a kind.

"What's happening?" Ise asked one of the guys detaining her.

"Do you know her?" The guard asked and he hesitated for a second, not exactly sure how to reply.

His eyes met hers and she replied "No," before he could "I don't know him."

He raised an eyebrow at her "I know her.” He told them “What did she do this time?"

"She was about absconding without settling her bill and kept insisting she had paid but had no receipt."

Ise frowned looking at her. Why was a pretty young girl like this into swindling people? She looked away, not in the least bit remorseful.

"What if I settle her bill, will you release her?" He asked.

Her head turned back to look at him and she suddenly found her voice again "No!" She screeched but the guards paid her no heed.

"I'm afraid it's for the police to handle now." One of them said.

"What if you just ban her from coming in here and if she disobeys, you get her arrested but please let me pay the bill and let this slide for now." He negotiated.

“Gee, thanks.” She said sarcastically, rolling her eyes.
The guys exchanged glances before reaching a  consensus and nodding, releasing her.

"Sal, get her into the car and watch her, I'll be right back." He instructed his driver who immediately grabbed her arm. He turned to go back into the building where he would settle her bill, one of the security men accompanying him

"Hey!" She tried to jerk her arm off with no success. "Hey, I don't know these people." But no one listened, guess no one took the words of a thief seriously.
******

To be continued…


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