False Pretenses (Episode Nine). By Peju Amadi

This was not the way Kite had planned her evening but she had no choice but to make lemonade out of the lemons life threw at her. Who the hell did this guy think he was? Seizing her handbag and then holding it ransom? There was no way she was going to let him take her hand bag; she had important things in there, she couldn’t just let him leave with it. She didn’t know where they were going but she was going to follow him wherever, pester his life until he gave up.

She’d not meant to be caught at the store, she’d not been as careful as she should have been and that was why she’d been caught. She’d stolen countless things before from stores and had never been caught, so what was the problem with her? Was she beginning to loose her touch? She’d been away from the game for a while now due to the girls’ insistence. It had been quite a while she shoplifted, could that be the reason?

She had to be more careful, she’d never been caught this many times so easily before. Luck was clearly not on her side these days, she would have to steer clear of bad behaviour for a while, she told herself. She’d been lucky to get out of this one again but this damn guy had seized her things.

When she’d been apprehended at the store and had been given the option of paying or face arrest, she’d had no choice but to call him, her only other choice were lucky and Diamond, she didn't need a genius to tell her that they would be really unhappy and cross with her. She wouldn’t hear the last of it for the rest of her life besides she didn’t want to burden them with any more payments. They were doing enough for her already, she didn’t need to add more expenses to their already drained pockets. She didn’t have any other friends in Abuja, she’d not made any since her move into the city a little over two years ago.

She wasn’t the outgoing type, preferring her own company most of the time. Her former boyfriend had called her reclusive but she didn’t agree. She wasn’t a recluse, just introverted and quite wary of people. Growing up, she’d always stood out and this had caused malicious gossip among the girls in the neighborhood, they’d been envious of her looks and had said really mean things about her to her face and behind her back. Growing up in that neighborhood had been trying.

Kite had learnt to put on a brave face every time, acting like she didn’t care what they thought. Most of the time she’d ignored the lies they said about her mother being adulterous and that was the reason her father had left. At other times when she’d lost control, she’d rained blows on the offending kid especially if she felt she could take them.

Her tumultuous childhood had definitely shaped her personality into what it was now. An introverted, wary girl who was well aware of how her looks affected people and so had perfected the art of manipulation and control. It worked on most people, especially the opposite sex. The only guy she’d been her true self with and had never manipulated was Izu, her ex boyfriend. They’d been alike in a way, hurt by the society, they had let it shape them, they’d had to become tough and grow a tough bark to
survive. It had drawn them together, or so she’d thought until he’d abandoned her and left her to take the fall for something she had not a single idea about. It was by God’s grace she’d gotten out of that fix and hadn’t ended up in jail.

She’d not seen him in six months and hoped she never did, he had this hold over her that she’d never understood. She was putty in his hands and he knew it. If she saw him again something told her she might run back into his arms. She was foolish when it came to Izu and she wasn’t sure why. She’d been
ready to do anything for him until he’d crossed her and had disappeared.

She turned to Williams who was comfortably ignoring her presence in the car. She would have to come up with a plan to get her handbag back. He’d kept it by his side, tucked securely between him and the door out of her reach. She had to smile, it was quite stupid but he wasn’t laughing, he seemed dead serious about getting the diamond set back. Kite knew it was fruitless. She didn’t plan on giving it back and just walking away from at least five hundred thousand. The set was worth double that price but in the black market where she intended to pawn it, it would be way lower than that.

She decided she needed to get on this guys good side if she was going to get her things back. Maybe a little gratitude and appreciation would help. She cleared her throat “Thanks for your help again, this evening.”

He gave her a quick glance before turning back to the road “Like I had a choice in the matter. Left for me, I’d have left you there. I got you out because of the deal I thought we had, but knowing you, I should have known you wouldn’t keep to it.”

She rolled her eyes. “That diamond set means nothing to you, you don’t really need it.”

“So because I don’t need it makes it right for you to steal it?”

She shrugged “I’m sorry for stealing it but I do need the money.”

“If you need money, get money the legitimate way. Start a business or get a job. Not steal from hardworking people.”

“Businesses need capital; I don’t have that and a job…. really? Anyway, you’ve always had it easy all your life so you don’t know how hard it is to get a good paying job out there.”

“Hey, I’ve had to work hard for everything I have, it's not all been rosy all the way.” He defended.

She scoffed “Oh please, you were born with a platinum spoon in your mouth, what do you know about
hardwork?”

“A lot! You think it's easy managing a multinational corporation like WOLCORP? You need to see the pile of work I go through in a day, I’m never in a place, today it's meeting with investors in the UAE, The next afternoon, it's a board meeting in Newyork, then I’m off to Germany to talk to contractors and then to  China where most of our manufacturing is outsourced, do you want me to go on?” He glanced at her again “You think it's been a walk in the park for me? You don’t know the half of it so please don’t judge me when you don’t know the first thing about my life.”

This kept her mute for a while but she wasn’t giving up, she had to get through to this guy somehow.

“Well….If you don’t like it, why do you still do it?”

“I didn’t say I didn’t like it.”

“But you’ll always be so busy, you would hardly have any time for yourself, for your family….a girlfriend.”She said

“I make it a point to be free on the weekend, my assistant makes sure of that. I spend weekends with family and friends.”

“That’s still not good enough, weekends are so short, how does your girlfriend cope?”

He looked at her briefly again “I don’t see how that’s any of your business. Wait! When did this conversation suddenly become about me? it's you we should be talking about, it's you who has a
problem.”

“You don’t have a girlfriend, do you?” She asked ignoring his last statement, when he didn’t reply she continued “No need to be ashamed?” She smiled as she said that knowing he was going to react to that, it was exactly what she wanted.

“I am not ashamed! it's you who should be, stealing from people who work hard to make their money.” He said raising his voice a notch.

“Yeah, yeah, whatever.” She replied indifferently.

“Yeah, that’s your attitude towards everything thing in life, isn’t it? Indifference! How long do you think you can go on living this way before you are caught and something really drastic happens? You really should start planning seriously, stealing isn’t sustainable.”

“Yes Sir.” She replied patronisingly, rolling her eyes.

“Just a little advice, you can choose to follow it or not.”

She didn’t need his advice, she’d already purposed that she wouldn’t swindle anymore, she would use the money she made from the diamond set to set up something, a small business. She should be a bit more grateful to this guy, he’d really been easy on her, she decided it was time he knew her name.

“My name is Kite Omoh, by the way.” She told him.

“Oh, so I’m now finally worthy of knowing your name?” He joked though he wasn’t laughing.

She smiled “You could say that.”

“Kitty? What sort of name is that?”

“It's Kite,” she corrected “Short for Okiemute.”

“Where you from?”

“Delta, I’m Uhrobo.” Her mom was anyway, her father was Ishan but she didn’t know much about that side of her family. So she always claimed her mother’s side. “Where are we going?”

“We?” He asked her back “I was the one going somewhere and you tagged yourself along.” She rolled her eyes “Okay, where are you going?”

“A friend’s birthday party in Life camp!”

She groaned, she was sure it would be a convergence of spoilt rich brats, she wasn’t sure she wanted to be there. “ Look, I promise not to steal ever again or bug you any more, just hand me my stuff please.”

“That promise came out too smoothly , I’m not buying it, besides I want everything you said I would get back, when you’re ready to give me back everything that’s mine, then you can have your stuff back.”

“Really?” She asked frustrated

“Yes, really!”

So much for gratitude, small talk and courtesy, she thought. It hadn’t worked one bit and he seemed determined to follow his threat through. Well, she guessed she would have to brace herself up for a party. Come to think of it, free dinner and drinks were not a bad idea, she might actually enjoy herself.

“In that case, I guess I’m going to your friend’s party then,” she told him. “Hope I look good enough to party with spoilt rich kids?”

She saw his smile as his eyes looked over her quickly, lingering on her mini jean skirt a while longer. He didn’t say anything.

“You like my skirt?” She asked.

“Is that a skirt or a belt?”

To be continued…


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